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Mine engineer detained after search for 13 trapped miners called off

AFP |
Apr 02, 2024 12:03 AM IST

Mine engineer detained after search for 13 trapped miners called off

The chief engineer of a mine in Russia's Far East has been detained on suspicion of violating safety regulations, investigators said Monday, after an accident two weeks ago left 13 workers presumed dead.

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A landslide on 18 March at the Pioneer gold mine in Russia's Amur region near the Chinese border pinned the miners more than 120 metres underground.

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Initial search operations showed caverns where they could have been sheltering were flooded, raising fears the 13 had been killed in the landslide.

State media reported earlier Monday that emergency workers had ended their rescue operation.

"The results of drilling showed the areas where the miners could be are filled with rock mass and water," operator Pokrovsky Mine said, in a statement cited by the Interfax news agency.

"The lives of rescuers and mine workers involved in the operation are at risk of death," due to the possibility of another collapse, it added.

Officials in Amur have opened an investigation for a suspected breach of safety rules, and the managing director was arrested last week, the regional branch of Russia's Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, said Monday.

The gold mine is one of the largest in the world and one of the most productive in Russia.

Accidents at mines are relatively common in Russia, where lax safety standards and weak enforcement have been blamed for multiple tragedies.

In 2021, an accident at a coal mine in Siberia claimed the lives of 40 miners.

One worker died and four people were rescued after a separate blast in another mine in the Sverdlovsk region of west-central Russia, according to the regional health ministry quoted by Russian news agencies on Monday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the termination of the rescue mission was "not good news".

"All the measures that could have been taken in connection with the situation that arose were taken. But the situation is what it is," he told reporters.

The regional governor said emergency workers had tried to save the miners "at great risk to their lives" and that the families of the miners would be given financial support.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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