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Ukraine Mine Blast Kills At Least 19

July 31, 2002

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) _ An underground explosion tore through a coal mine Wednesday night in Ukraine, killing at least 19 miners in the latest disaster to hit the country’s mining industry.

Two miners were still missing after the explosion, which occurred 3,557 feet underground, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Dozens of rescue teams converged at the scene at the Zasiadko mine in Donetsk in southeastern Ukraine, the ministry said.

Nineteen bodies had been brought to the surface as of late Wednesday.

It wasn’t immediately known what caused the blast, which was the latest in a series of accidents at mines in Ukraine _ believed to be the most dangerous in the world with about 3,700 miners killed since 1991. Critics blame the dangers on a lack of funds to modernize equipment and negligence toward safety regulations.

On July 7, 35 coal workers were killed in a mine fire _ the deadliest mine accident this year in Ukraine. On July 21, a methane blast killed six miners and injured 18. In a scare this weekend, 34 miners were trapped by an underground fire but were brought to safety.

At the Zasiadko mine, 55 workers were killed by a methane gas explosion in August 2001 and 50 miners were killed in a May 1999 accident.

Earlier Wednesday, Ukraine’s work safety agency suspended work in 43 mines for violations of safety regulations in the wake of the recent accidents.

Update hourly