Russian mine accident leaves 36 dead

A handout picture released by the Vorkutaugol press service on 26 February 2016 shows rescue workers at the Severnaya coal mine in Vorkuta, about 1,900 km northeast of Moscow, Russia, 26 February 2016. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Rescue workers had been trying for days to free the trapped miners

A total of 36 people, including five rescue workers, are presumed dead following an explosion at a coal mine in northern Russia, officials say.

Four miners were killed when a methane leak triggered two explosions in the mine near Vorkuta on Thursday.

Rescuers were trying to rescue 26 trapped miners when a new blast occurred, killing five rescue workers and a miner.

The rescue operation has been halted and those missing are presumed dead.

The incident is one of the worst Russian mining disasters in recent times.

"The circumstances in the affected part of the mine did not allow anyone to survive," Russia's Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said.

"In the underground space where the 26 miners were, there are high temperatures and no oxygen", he added.

All the rescuers who were killed or injured in the operation would be given state awards, the TASS news agency reported.

Image copyright EPA

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