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Accident-hit coal mine section in north Russia likely to be flooded

Russian Emergencies Ministry official says it is becoming not only difficult but also unsafe to carry out works to isolate the shaft collars

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. A decision is likely to be made to flood the accident-hit section of the Severnaya coalmine in north Russia as it is dangerous to isolate it, Deputy Head of Paramilitary Rescue Units at Russia’s Emergencies Ministry Vladlen Aksyonov said on Wednesday.

"The analysis of the coalmine atmosphere yesterday showed that the air stream coming from the coalmine contained an increased amount of carbon monoxide and a high level of smoke," he said at a meeting at the Severnaya coalmine.

‘This suggests that it is becoming not only difficult but also unsafe to carry out works under the decision made by the technical council to isolate the shaft collars," he added.

In this context, a method of liquidating the fire by way of flooding will be considered, Aksyonov said.

"For the purpose of preparing for these events, the required instructions have been issued and they are planned for implementation within 24 hours," he said.

In particular, there are plans to organize the supply of water to the coalmine from six sources. Currently, only preparatory works are under way for implementing this plan, he said.

A sudden methane outburst occurred at the Severnaya coalmine in the Republic of Komi in north Russia on February 25, triggering two blasts. There were 111 people underground at the time of the blasts.

Four miners died and the fate of another 26 miners remained unknown. A third blast occurred during a search and rescue operation at the coalmine overnight to February 28, killing six people, including five rescuers.

Overall, 36 people can be considered as dead in the coalmine accident, including the rescuers who died during the rescue operation, said Arkady Dvorkovich, deputy prime minister in charge of the government commission for rendering support to the relatives of the accident’s victims.