Coal mine explosion kills 17 in Russia

Seventeen miners have died and one is missing after an explosion at a coal mine in Russia.

A spokesman told Sky News a methane explosion was reported at mine.

Rescue teams are trying to reach any survivors at the Vorkutinskaya mine in Vorkuta, Komi region, around 1,160 miles northeast of Moscow.

259 miners were working underground at the time of the explosion, which took place at a depth of 800m.

Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has promised help to the miners’ families.

Russian state TV said the families of those killed would receive two million rubles, around £42,000, in compensation.

Seven workers were injured last year after an underground methane gas explosion at a coal mine in Russia’s Siberia region.

Russia has some of the world's largest coal reserves and plans to grow its current coal production levels by five times by 2030.

With the country planning to ramp up its production levels to 380 million tonnes in 2020, and up to 430 million tonnes by 2030, many fear more mining accidents may occur.

High concentration of methane remains the major cause of deadly incidents in Russian coal mines.

91 people died in May 2010, when two methane blasts occurred at the Raspadskaya mine near the west Siberian town of Mezhdurechensk. Only 80 bodies were recovered from the mine.

Image: themoscowtimes.com

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