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Rescuers Find All But One of the 67 Miners Killed in Yesterday’s Coal Mine Explosion in

December 4, 1997

Rescuers Find All But One of the 67 Miners Killed in Yesterday’s Coal Mine Explosion in RussiaBy NATASHA ALOVA

MOSCOW (AP) _ Rescuers searched a Siberian coal mine Wednesday for the body of the last miner missing from a devastating explosion that authorities say killed all 67 men in the shaft at the time.

By the end of the day, searchers believed they knew where the body was, but were unable to reach it because of debris, said Col. Alexander Kuznetsov, a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry at the site.

Sixty-six bodies were brought to the surface in the hours after Tuesday’s methane gas blast in the Zyrianovskaya mine in the Kuzbass region of southern Siberia.

Most of the deaths inside the 2,178-foot deep shaft were caused by burns or inhalation of poison gases, emergency officials said.

Six miners who had finished work and were on their way out at the time of the early morning blast were hospitalized with burns and gas poisoning.

The entire region was in a three-day period of mourning declared Tuesday by Gov. Aman Tuleyev, with no entertainment broadcasts or events and mourning services in many churches.

The blast was believed to be the most powerful in a Russian mine in the last half-century, according to Russian Television.

President Boris Yeltsin, in Sweden on a state visit, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin sent their condolences and assurances of assistance to the victims’ families.

A government commission was investigating the cause of the blast Wednesday, but most media reports blamed low funding and poor safety discipline.

``The main cause of the blast is a lack of funds for modernization and chronic wage delays,″ wrote Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a Moscow daily.

Russia’s mining industry has been plagued by deteriorating safety and working conditions due largely to limited funds.

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