KIEV, Nov. 20 – Fire continues to rage at the Zasyadko coal mine three days after a powerful methane gas explosion killed at least 89 miners and left 11 missing, a senior official said Tuesday.
The death toll from the accident rose on Tuesday as rescue teams recovered more bodies from the coal mine, already making the accident the worst ever in Ukraine’s history.
Andriy Kliuyev, deputy prime minister who chairs the government’s investigation commission, said that the fire keeps the temperature at some parts of the coal mine at 600 C degrees.
He said the commission will hold a meeting late Tuesday to decide on how to proceed with the efforts to stop the fire.
Meanwhile, there were reports in the media on Tuesday that those coal miners that had survived the blast had started to submit resignations from the Zasyadko, citing its poor safety record.
Ukrainian coal mines are believed to be some of the world’s most dangerous due to the depth of coal extraction - often exceeding 1,000 meters - and due to the abundance of methane gas that comes with the coal deposits in the area, analysts said.
The government has been seeking to increase reliance on domestic coal extraction to reduce dependence on imported energy, such as natural gas imports, from Russia.
Ukraine currently produces about 80 million metric tons of coal annually, but the government has been seeking to increase the output to 100 million tons within years.
The calls for stricter safety requirements may require more investments into the industry and may even delay the efforts to boost production, analysts said. (sb/ez)