THIRTY-SEVEN miners were trapped after a gas explosion tore through a pit in Ukraine’s Donbass coalfield, destroying the main shaft and complicating rescue attempts.
The miners had been making repairs to improve safety conditions in the mine, officials said. Four workers above ground were injured.
Rescue teams heard the voices of some of the trapped miners after attempting to get to them through a damaged shaft, deputy prime minister Oleksandr Turchynov said.
“There is hope they are alive,” he said, adding that the ventilation system in the mine was still working.
The methane explosion, one of the most powerful in the country’s mining history, tore through the Karl Marx mine in the eastern city of Donetsk around 5am, trapping the miners some 3,300 feet underground.
The injured workers — three of them women — were hospitalised with severe burns. The explosion damaged two shafts and destroyed several buildings above ground. The state-run mine — where another explosion killed seven in 1999 — had been declared too dangerous to operate.
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