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Nine Ukrainian miners trapped after cavern collapse

A cavern collapse in a Ukrainian mine trapped nine miners for more than 18 hours but rescue workers hoped to save them, a mining authority official said.

world Updated: May 05, 2009 15:40 IST

A cavern collapse in a Ukrainian mine trapped nine miners for more than 18 hours but rescue workers hoped to save them, a mining authority official said on Tuesday.

More than 100 miners were working in the Dzerzhynsk mine, in Ukraine's industrial east, including 14 directly in the area of the collapse. Five of those miners managed to reach the surface by themselves.

Accidents are frequent in Ukrainian mines, many constructed in the 19th century and barely modernised since Soviet times. Three gas explosions in two weeks killed 106 miners in 2007 and last year more than a dozen died in similar blasts.

Coal is vital for electricity production in Ukraine and is also used in large quantities by its vast steel industry. About 18.5 million tonnes of coal were mined in the first three months of this year.