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Special robots to descend into Russian mine damaged by methane gas blast

February 29, 21:31 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The fate of 26 miners remains unknown and there is no contact with them
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© Alexey Shtokal/TASS

MOSCOW, February 29. /TASS/. Special robots have been brought to the northern Russian city of Vorkuta where 36 people were killed in a mine in two explosions triggered by a methane leak, as it is too dangerous for people to stay inside, the press service of the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations told Tass on Monday.

"Robots will be shortly deployed into the affected mine for work," a ministry representative said. Robotic systems give a possibility to make visual reconnaissance in hard of access areas. They are equipped with several video cameras, some on a rotating platform.

"Robots are capable to make remote measurement, can take air samples, move sensing elements to the zone dangerous for people to stay in. They are equipped with infrared sensing elements and can work in complete darkness in conditions of excessive smoke and dust content," the ministry said.

A methane leak 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 was no contact with them.

A third blast hit the mine early on Sunday during a search and rescue operation, killing six people, including 5 rescuers. The rescue operation was halted after their death.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who heads the governmental commission, said 36 people could be considered killed given the circumstances.

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