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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 June, 2003, 08:02 GMT 09:02 UK
Miners rescued after 40-hour ordeal
Russian mine
Eleven miners died in the blast
Four Russian miners have been rescued alive after a 40-hour ordeal trapped underground.

The men survived a blast on Monday which killed 11 of their colleagues, but were stuck in an underground chamber.

Rescuers had worked desperately for two nights to dig through tonnes of rubble from a collapsed ceiling.

Early on Wednesday they reached the men and brought them to the surface at the Ziminka mine, in the Siberian town of Prokopyevsk.

All four were in good health, and none required hospital treatment, said Andrei Yegorov, spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Russian television said the men were allowed to go home after being briefly examined by doctors.

They had been able to speak to rescuers via telephone links during their two nights underground.

One miner is still missing.

A day of mourning for the 11 men who died will be held on Thursday.

Officials say the deadly blast was probably caused by methane gas being ignited by a spark from a drilling machine.

Interfax news agency reported that prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation, looking at allegations of safety breaches and negligence.

The area is one of Russia's main coal-producing areas.

Last year seven miners died in four accidents in the same region.

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