Russia, coal mine disaster in the Arctic kills 36

Tre esplosioni hanno causato il crollo della miniera russa di Severnaia. L’incidente si aggiunge al vasto elenco di catastrofi minerarie russe, provocate da vecchie strutture e da controlli inadeguati.

coal mine disaster killed 36 people in Vorkuta, Arctic Russia, on 25 February. Among the casualties, there were 5 rescuers who intervened to help trapped miners. Officials said the mine collapsed following three explosions triggered by gas leaks.


Disastro minerario in Russia
The coal mine disaster seems to be due to gas leaks © Getty Images/AFP/Maxim Marmur


The first explosion took place at a depth of 780 metres on Thursday 25 February, allegedly caused by a gas leak, followed by 2 other blasts in the following days. 110 miners were working in the mine during the explosion and about 80 of them were rescued, said technical director Denis Paikin, adding that all of the missing miners were presumed dead given the level of gas in the mine and the degree of destruction and the trajectory of the fire.


“According to the expert technical council, 26 missing people who were in the mine had no chances of surviving,” said Tatyana Bushkova, a spokeswoman for the mine’s operator Vorkutaugol that manages Severnaya mine in the Arctic region of Komi. “The rescue operation has been halted”.


The causes of the disaster still have to be verified, but they seem of natural origin. “According to the materials that have been obtained and preliminary information, the accident had natural causes and was a geological event,” said Alexander Goncharenko, head of the regional branch of the technical council.


Miniera di carbone
Excavator at a coal mine © Sean Gallup/Getty Images


However, the poor state of numerous Russian mines is undeniable and it probably led to the blasts at Severnaya, which is just the latest mine disaster in the country’s recent history. In 2010 over 90 people were killed in the collapse of Raspadskaya mine, in Kamerovo region, Western Siberia, caused by a methane leak.


In Kuzbass coalfield, one of Russia’s most important, fatal accidents are terribly frequent: 60 miners died in 2004, 23 in 2005, 30 in 2006, and 106 in 2007. Timeworn facilities and inadequate security measures are the main causes of mine disasters in Russia.


Minatori russi a fine turno
© Eric Feferberg/AFP


Unemployment and poverty lead hundreds of people, born in these icy and inhospitable lands, to risk their lives every day, descending the bowels of the earth, without knowing if they will be able to see sunlight again.

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