Methane blast kills at least five workers at Kazakhstan coal mine

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Officials say the accident at the Karaganda mine was caused by the sudden release of methane gas.

At least five workers were killed and four others injured in a methane explosion at a coal mine in central Kazakhstan, according to officials.

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“Five workers died of sudden gas leaks during the drilling of a drainage well” at the Lenin coal mine belonging to ArcelorMittal on Thursday, Ruslan Imankulov, a spokesman for the country’s emergency ministry, told AFP news agency.

Imankulov said that “four people were hospitalized and 106 were evacuated”.

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The mine is located in the city of Shakhtinsk in the resource-rich region of Karaganda, whose governor said the accident was caused by an “explosion of methane” – a gas that can combust when combined with a certain amount of oxygen.

A government commission has launched an investigation into possible breaches of safety regulations.

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In a statement, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev offered “condolences to the families and friends of the deceased workers”, and wished “a speedy recovery to the injured”.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic and a leading economy in Central Asia, has significant reserves of oil, gas and coal as well as uranium, manganese, iron and chromium.

Mining accidents are frequent in the countries of the former Soviet Union due to the dilapidated facilities and the lax attitude towards safety.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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