Death trap

Published: Friday 15 May 1998

nearly 63 miners died in a methane gas explosion which took place in the Skochinsky coalmine, Donetsk, Ukraine. This was one of the Ukraine's worst mining disasters. Some 600 persons were working when the methane blast ripped the pit.

Rescue teams had to burrow through 300 metres of rubble, 1.2 kilometres below ground to reach survivors. Most of the miners died either in the explosion or suffocated.

Officials said that injured people were poisoned by gas as their personal breathing apparatus failed to work. Deputy prime minister Nikolai Beloblotsky, who is heading an investigation into the accident has called it a "national tragedy." Ukraine's mining industry has a reputation for danger and death, especially since the collapse of Communism which left many of the pits in acute financial crisis.

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