BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Wednesday, 22 August, 2001, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Hope dies for Ukraine miners
Funeral ceremony for a miner killed in Sunday's blast
Ukraine's mines are among the world's most dangerous
The number killed in the Ukraine mine disaster has officially risen to 47 after rescuers abandoned hope that 10 miners still trapped underground would be found alive.

The men were believed trapped in the centre of the fire raging deep inside the mine which is still inaccessible because of high temperatures.

An official statement confirming these people are dead was issued by the coroner's office

Yury Sayats,
mine official
Funerals for 15 miners killed in the Zasyadko pit were being held in the nearby city of Donetsk on Wednesday.

Relatives have been anxiously following medical reports from the hospital there where 38 injured miners have been admitted.

Doctors say they remain concerned about the condition of 14 of these, and a further four are reported to be in a critical condition.

Rescue workers halted the search on Monday as the fires continued to rage near the scene of the blast about a kilometre (half a mile) from the surface.

Injured miner in ambulance
38 miners remain in hospital
Officials said 259 miners were underground when a mixture of coal dust and methane gas exploded on Sunday morning.

Rescue workers have been unable to get within 100 metres (100 yards) of the blast scene because of temperatures of 60-80C. They refrained from using water to douse the flames for fear of flooding the shaft.

Angry relatives

Meanwhile other miners continue to work in other shafts at the mine.

Many relatives and miners blamed the disaster on managers' aggressive efforts to accelerate production in recent weeks, although it was known that methane levels in the shaft were high.

They said miners worked in short shifts because of the danger, indicating that managers were also aware of the risk.

"You can imagine what it was like, in addition to the heat and depth," said one miner at Tuesday's funeral ceremony.

But the mine's board chairman, Yuhym Zviagilskyi, has dismissed reports of possible safety violations, insisting that managers have made serious investment into improving work safety.

Officials say it is too early to speculate on the cause of the accident until the special commission to investigate the incident has produced its findings.

Ukraine's mines are considered among the world's most dangerous.

Outdated equipment and widespread disregard for safety rules have been blamed for the accidents, which claimed 318 lives last year, and at least 140 so far this year.

"These accidents are happening more and more often," said Ivan Misyura, head of labour relations for Ukraine's Independent Coalworkers Union. "Salaries are bad, safety controls are bad."

The BBC's Rob Parsons
"Hope is dying fast"
Lidia Valenski, Ukrainian journalist
"It doesn't look very hopeful for the ten who are still missing"
See also:

20 Aug 01 | Europe
Fire hampers Ukraine mine rescue
20 Aug 01 | Europe
Ukraine mine blast kills 36
12 Mar 00 | Europe
Ukraine mourns mine deaths
12 Mar 00 | Europe
Ukraine mine blast kills 80
12 Mar 00 | Europe
Ukraine's troubled mines
30 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ukraine
Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories