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Four Die in Ukraine Mine Blast

July 21, 2002

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ A methane gas explosion tore through a Ukrainian coal mine Sunday, killing at least four miners and leaving more than 100 missing, officials said.

Rescuers brought 304 miners out of the mine after the blast and found three bodies, said Ihor Krol, an official at the Emergency Situations Ministry. Five of the rescued miners were hospitalized in serious condition, he said.

Krol said that 423 miners were underground at the time of the explosion at the Yuvileina mine in Pershotravensk in Ukraine’s eastern Dnepropetrovsk region.

The explosion came just two weeks after a fire in the Ukraina coal mine in nearby Donetsk region killed 35 coal workers and injured 12.

Ukraine’s largely unprofitable mines have one of the world’s highest accident rates blamed on poor maintenance and neglect of safety regulations.

More than 3,700 miners have been killed in job-related accidents in Ukraine since 1991.

Miners in Ukraine often go months without pay. Last week, hundreds of coal workers blocked traffic in the capital, Kiev, to demand the government _ which subsidizes the industry and owns some mines directly _ pay $230 million in back wages.

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