MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet head of the country’s industrial safety watchdog Rostekhnadzor Alexei Aleshin on Tuesday to discuss safety measures and the situation in the Severnaya coalmine in Vorkuta (in Russia’s north-eastern Komi republic) and similar facilities. "The conversation (between Putin and Aleshin) will be held in light of the recent accidents in the mine," presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov told journalists. "The conversation will generally focus on the security measures taken both in that particular mine and in mines across the country."
A methane burst at the Severnaya coalmine in Vorkuta on February 25 triggered two blasts and rock collapse followed by a fire. There were 111 coalminers underground at the time of the explosion at a depth of 780 meters, with 81 of them recovered to the surface. Four miners died and another nine were injured in the accident. The fate of 26 miners remained unknown and there has been no contact with them since the time of the blasts.
A third blast hit the mine early on Sunday, February 28, during a search and rescue operation, killing six persons, including 5 rescuers. Another five persons were injured.
A total of 36 people are believed to have died in the coalmine accident, Deputy Prime Minister Dvorkovich, who heads the government commission for the provision of assistance to the injured in the accident and families of those killed by the mine blast, said then. "There are many people who have died. There is no hope that 26 coalminers who were in the coalmine are alive. It can be said that a total of 36 people have become the victims, including the dead rescuers," Dvorkovich said.
The vice premier conveyed condolences on behalf of the Russian government to the families of the miners and rescuers who had died in the coalmine. "This is a grave and extraordinary situation, a big disaster for Russia and for our coal industry," the vice premier said.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said on Sunday there were actually no chances for 26 coalminers trapped underground in the coalmine blast in north Russia to survive. "We have to state that all the parameters that have evolved at the accident-hit section of the coalmine do not allow anyone to survive," the minister said.
According to the minister, "the data show that there are high temperatures and no oxygen in the area of the underground space where 26 coalminers were staying." "Precisely this section was the epicenter of the third explosion," the minister added.
Criminal proceedings have been instituted over the emergency under Article 216, part 3 of the Russian Criminal Code (violation of safety rules in mining, construction and other works that resulted in the death of two and more persons through negligence).