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Page last updated at 21:34 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 22:34 UK

Ukrainian coal miners found alive

The Karl Marx mine in Yenakiyevo
The blast was so strong it injured five outside the mine

Most of the miners trapped after a gas explosion at a pit in Ukraine have been found alive, officials say.

A total of 24 miners have now been brought to the surface and are being treated in hospital for burns and for other injuries.

However, another 12 are believed to be still trapped underground amid fears that the mine, in the eastern Donetsk region, may soon be flooded.

One miner was found dead at a depth of 750m (2,460 feet).

Explosions are frequent in Ukraine's mines. Three blasts in the region late last year killed more than 100 men.

Safety work

The Karl Marx mine in Yenakiyevo, 60km (37 miles) north-east of the regional capital Donetsk, had officially been closed because of safety fears.

The miners were carrying out safety improvements when the latest explosion occurred on Sunday, 1,000m below the surface of the 110-year-old mine.

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Rescuers working at the Karl Marx mine

The first two survivors and the victim were found at 750m more than 24 hours after the accident.

The other 34 miners were much deeper, about 1,000m down.

Rescuers had to negotiate a narrow shaft and the work was drawn out.

The blast had been so powerful that five people outside the mine were injured, leading some to fear there would be few, if any, survivors.

But First Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Turchinov, the most senior government official at the site, urged caution on the remaining rescue work, saying that water could flood the mine at any time.

Families of the missing men were gathered outside the complex, awaiting news.

Accidents are common in Ukraine's creaking mine network. Work was suspended at 20 mines in the region following an explosion on 23 May that killed 11 people.


SEE ALSO
Ukraine mine toll rises to five
03 Dec 07 |  Europe
Four dead in Ukraine mine blast
02 Dec 07 |  Europe

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