Rescue for Siberian mine blasts delayed for at least one week

18:34, May 14, 2010      

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Rescue efforts for the survivors at Russia's west Siberian coal mine has been delayed for at least one week due to high methane levels, said an expert from Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Friday.

"The concentration of methane has surpassed all imaginable levels. We have calculations which say that it (the rescue effort) may resume after seven days at best," said Pavel Plat, chief expert from the ministry as quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

The rescue workers stopped their operation on Thursday since they discovered four new points of fire in the tunnels, which means news explosions are possible.

Double blasts that tore through the Raspadaskaya mine in Kemerovo region over the weekend has killed at least 66 people and injured more than 129 others.

Plat said rescuers would start working at flooding areas where the level of methane concentration was thought to be the highest, "to drive methane out."

So far 24 people remained unaccounted for and at least 20 km of underground tunnels needed inspection.

Meanwhile the regional emergencies service said in a statement Friday that all 66 bodies of the victims have been found and brought back to surface.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that the technical failures were among the reasons which led to the tragedy.



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