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By Lina Kushch
YENAKIYEVO, Ukraine, June 10 Rescuers have
little chance of finding alive 12 miners missing after a gas
explosion at a Ukrainian colliery, officials said on Tuesday.
Twenty-four men were brought to the surface on Monday --
more than 24 hours after the blast shattered installations and
blocked shafts at the Karl Marx pit in the Donbass coalfield.
One man was found dead and four were seriously hurt with burns.
Gas explosions are a frequent occurrence in Ukraine's
outdated, unprofitable mines. Like many pits, the Karl Marx mine
in Yenakiyevo, northeast of the regional centre Donetsk, dated
from the late 19th century with deposits hard to reach at a
depth of 1 km or more.
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleksander Turchynov, the most
senior government official at the accident site, said many of
the missing men had borne the brunt of Sunday's blast.
"I do not want to make any predictions, but I would say that
the chances are minimal. But there always is hope," Turchynov
Nine of the men, he said, were on their way to the surface
in an elevator when the blast hit them full force at a depth of
200 metres, sending the cage cascading back down the shaft.
The other three, he said, had been about 1,000 metres below
ground, where the explosion occurred after levels of methane had
shot up beyond dangerous levels. All of them were threatened by
rising water which teams were unable to pump out of the mine.
President Viktor Yushchenko, long at odds with his on-again,
off-again ally, Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said ministers
had failed the industry, making mining a deadly profession.
The mine was one of 23 where work had been suspended to
check on documented safety violations.
Eleven miners were killed in the last explosion in the
Donbass coalfield two weeks ago. Three blasts at the Zasyadko
mine in Donetsk late last year killed 106 men in two weeks.
(Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)