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At least 30 killed in Russia mine blasts

world Updated: May 10, 2010 11:11 IST

At least 30 people have been killed in blasts at a coal mine in West Siberia, Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.

"As of present, 30 people have died and 60 people, whose fate is unknown, remain in the mine. We are continuing the search," the minister told journalists.

Earlier reports said 13 people had died in two blasts at the Raspadskaya mine, Russia's largest coal mine, located near the town of Mezhdurechensk in the Kemerovo region, in the space of four hours late Saturday and early Sunday. The cause of the explosions has not yet been determined.

Shoigu also said that that rescue workers had around 48 hours to save two groups of people, including some of their colleagues who went in after the initial blast, trapped underground at two separate points in the mine.

"Of all the locations and places where miners and rescue workers were working, two of these remain critical, because the drainage system there has been destroyed," he said, adding that there was no way of lowering water levels in these areas.

He also said that during normal working conditions, the flow of water into these spots in the mine reached 2,000 cubic meters an hour. Reports say six people are in one location and seven in another and that they could only be reached via shafts.

Investigators also said that 17 bodies, believed to be those of rescue workers, had already been brought to the surface.