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Alrosa says rescue operation at Mir underground mine impossible to continue

August 26, 2017, 20:55 UTC+3 MOSCOW

On August 26, at 9.10 am local time, the water volume accumulated in the open pit mine was 37,400 cubic meters, and it makes any rescue works underground impossible

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© Press Office of Yakutia's Rescue Service/TASS

MOSCOW, August 26. /TASS/. The search and rescue operation in the flooded Mir underground mine in Russia’s Yakutia has been stopped, according to the report of the mine’s owner Alrosa.

"On August 26, at 9.10 am local time, the water volume accumulated in the open pit mine was 37,400 cubic meters. The danger of uncontrolled instantaneous inrush of the water into the mineshaft makes any rescue works underground impossible," Russia's top diamond producer said.

According to the surveying service, washouts totaling over 100 thousand cubic meters were formed in the saline rock of the mine shaft. According to the calculations of geotechnicians, with this amount of washouts there is a risk of collapse of the lower pit bench and destruction of the mine workings, which makes rescuers’ work impossible. Directed explosions at the bottom of the open pit mine are prohibited.

"It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to announce that there is no more hope that we can find the missing miners alive and bring them to the surface. We are deeply shocked by what happened. This is a great tragedy for the whole company. Unfortunately, knowing that we have done everything possible to rescue the people cannot be a comfort to their loved ones," Alrosa President Sergey Ivanov was quoted as saying.

"As the head of the company, I guarantee that the miners' families will receive the necessary support and financial aid - timely and in full. On behalf of Alrosa, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the miners. We mourn with you," he said.

Alrosa underground mine Mir was flooded with water from the open-pit mine on August 4. When the accident happened, there were 151 miners underground. 142 miners were safely evacuated on the same day, one more was rescued on the following day. Eight miners are still missing.

The search and rescue operation at the mine continued for three weeks, Alrosa said. A total of 320 people were involved in the operation: 170 specialists of the Emergencies Ministry and about 150 Alrosa employees. The search was conducted at a depth of 550 and 600 meters, the total volume of the rock extracted amounted to 19.5 thousand cubic meters, the length of the cleared mine workings was 1,191.5 meters. Over 30 units of equipment, aviation, divers and rock climbers were involved in the search.

The search became more complicated on August 18, when the water coming from the Metegero-Ichersky aquifer complex stopped discharging into the underground mine and started accumulating at the bottom of the open pit. "The inflow in the open pit mine was about 1,200 cubic meters of water per hour, of which about 1,000 cubic meters discharged into the underground mine, and 200 cubic meters accumulated at the bottom of the open pit every hour. It created a danger of instantaneous breakthrough of accumulated water into the mine shaft and endangered the lives of miners and rescuers working underground," the company said.

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