MOSCOW (AP) – Rescuers have found a survivor at a Siberian coal mine where dozens of miners are presumed dead after a devastating methane explosion, a top local official announced Friday.
Sergei Tsivilov, governor of the Kemerovo region, where the mine is located, said on messaging app Telegram that the survivor was found at the Listviaznaya mine in south-western Siberia, and “is being taken to hospital.”
Acting Emergency Minister Alexander Chupriyan said the man found in the mine was a rescuer who was presumed dead.
Authorities confirmed 14 people were killed on Thursday – 11 miners were found dead and three rescuers later died while searching for others who were trapped in a remote part of the mine. Six more bodies were recovered on Friday morning and 31 people are missing.
Gov. Civiliev said it was extremely impossible to find the other survivors at this point.
Hours after a methane gas explosion and a mine fire on Thursday, a build-up of methane and carbon monoxide gas from the fire forced rescuers to halt the search. A total of 239 people were rescued from the mine; According to Kemerovo officials, 63 of them have sought medical help as of Friday morning.
State Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies on Thursday, citing emergency officials, said there was no chance of anyone else surviving, and the death toll rose to 52 on Thursday evening. Saving a survivor on Friday morning makes him 51.
It appears to be the deadliest mine accident in Russia since 2010, when two methane explosions and a fire at the Raspadskaya mine in the same Kemerovo region killed 91 people.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at a coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the wake of the incident, officials analyzed the safety of 58 coal mines in the country and declared 20 or 34% of them potentially unsafe.
Regional officials declared three days of mourning. Russia’s Investigative Committee has launched a criminal investigation into the fires over safety violations that led to the deaths. It said the mine director and two senior managers have been detained.
Another criminal investigation was launched on Friday into the alleged negligence of state officials who inspected the mine earlier this month.