A series of underground coal mine explosions in Russia far north have killed miners, and their rescuers, at Severnaya coal mine, in Vorkuta.
A methane burst at the mine on Thursday, local time, trigged two blasts and a rockfall at the mine, killing four, injuring nine, and trapping 26 miners underground, according to Russian news service TASS.
However 81 miners from the shift managed to escape to the surface.
There was no contact with the trapped miners from the time of the blast.
Pechora paramilitary Mine search and rescue services were quickly sent to the site; however a third blast – believed to be where the 26 miners were trapped – occurred, killing six people, five of them rescuers, and injuring another five people, eliminating any chance of recovering the trapped miners.
“We have to state that all the parameters that have evolved at the accident-hit section of the coalmine do not allow anyone to survive," Russian emergencies minister Vladimir Puchkov – who personally went underground to inspect the situation – said.
“The data shows high temperatures and no oxygen in the area of the underground space where the 26 coalminers were.
"This section was the epicentre of the third explosion," he added, “triggering grave consequences.”
“Unfortunately, five professional rescuers died during their rescue operation. They worked in the most complex conditions and demonstrated their courage, heroism and the highest level of preparedness but, unfortunately, they died along with another coalminer," Puchkov said.
Mine engineers are currently focused on extinguishing the resulting fire from the third explosion either by starving it of oxygen or flooding the put.
The State is now issuing medals to all rescuers killed or injured in the incident.
This is not the first time a deadly incident has occurred at the mine, after a number of miners were killed in a similar underground methane explosion in 2013.