Deadly blast rips through Ukraine coal mine

Deadly blast rips through Ukraine coal mine

A deadly methane gas explosion tore through a coal mine in western Ukraine on Thursday, killing at least eight miners in the latest pit disaster to hit the ex-Soviet state.

As rescuers scrambled to save those trapped underground there was confusion over the exact number of people killed in the blast.

The head of Ukraine’s Independent Trade Unions of Coal Miners Mykhaylo Volynets told AFP that 10 miners were killed after earlier claiming that 11 lives were lost.

Ukraine’s emergency services and prosecutors put the figure at eight.

Rescue workers said that 20 people were unaccounted for and that 172 miners were in the pit at the time.

Volynets said the pit in the western region of Lviv near the Polish border “had not been modernised for years”.

It operated “using outdated equipment and lacked the necessary safety means,” he said.

Officials said Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and Energy Minister Igor Nasalyk immediately left for the site after hearing the news.

Ukraine has frequent mine accidents that claim dozens of lives at a time.

But this is the first major explosion reported this year.

Ukraine relies heavily on coal for electricity and heat despite efforts by Western donors to weaken the east European country’s dependency on the polluting fuel.

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