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The BBC's Robert Parsons in Moscow
"Ukraine's dangerous mining industry"
 real 56k

Writer on Ukraine, Anna Reid
Lots of broken pit props ... oxygen tanks don't work
 real 28k

Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 04:30 GMT
Ukraine mine blast kills 80
Ukrainian miners
Investment in Ukraine's mines has slowed to a halt
Rescue crews worked into Sunday morning dragging bodies out of a coal mine in eastern Ukraine, where a methane explosion killed 80 miners.

The blast - thought to be the country's worst mining disaster of the post-Soviet era - happened at on Saturday at the Barakova mine in the Luhansk region.
Map of the Ukraine
The emergencies ministry said nearly 300 miners had been underground at the time of the explosion, but all have now been accounted for. Seven people were being treated for their injuries.

They had been working at a depth of 664m (2,000ft) when the explosion ripped through the mine.

"As far as I remember there has been nothing like this in the past 10 years. This is the biggest," Emergencies Ministry spokesman Oleh Bykov said.
Deadly methane
Naturally occurring gas
Seeps out of coal seams
Builds up in poorly-ventilated shifts
Rescue workers said coal-dust was likely to have increased the deadliness of the methane gas explosion.

Dozens of technical and medical back-up staff were rushed to the scene of the accident.

Official concern
More than 200 miners survived the explosion
More than 200 miners survived the explosion
Ukranian President Leonid Kuchma broke off his holiday and postponed a planned trip to Poland because of the incident.

And a spokeswoman said Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko had decided to postpone a trip to the United States planned for next week.

He is expected to visit the mine on Sunday.

Common occurrence

Fatal underground methane gas explosions have been common in Ukraine's mines in recent years.
Troubled mines
May 1999 - 50 miners burnt to death
April 1998 - methane explosion killed 63
Nearly 130 have died so far this year
1999 - about 280 died
1998 - about 360 died
1997 - about 260 died
1996 - nearly 340 died
400,000 coal workers
More than 200 mines
Average wage $100
The BBC's Senior Russian analyst, Stephen Dalziel, says shoddy working practices and low safety standards in Soviet times caused many mishaps.

And since it gained its independence in 1991, Ukraine has been too poor to devote the necessary resources to improving matters.

In one of the country's worst disasters, a methane gas explosion killed 63 men in a Donetsk mine two years ago.

About 50 miners burnt to death in an explosion in the same region in May 1999.

Ukraine has 400,000 coal workers and more than 200 mines, concentrated in the Donbass coal region in the east of the country.

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12 Mar 00 | Europe
Ukraine's troubled mines
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