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Mine blast kills at least 7 in Kazakhstan

At least seven miners have been killed and 23 missing after a methane gas explosion ripped through a mine in Kazakhstan.

world Updated: Jan 12, 2008 07:34 IST

At least seven miners were killed and 23 were missing after a methane gas explosion ripped through a mine in central Kazakhstan on Friday.

The Abaiskaya mine is one of Kazakhstan's eight mines owned by the world's largest steel-maker, Luxembourg-based Arcelor Mittal.

The Interfax news agency said the explosion occurred at the Abaiskaya mine in the central Karaganda region around 9:30 am local time (0330 GMT) when 191 miners were working underground.

Among the 161 miners rescued, 13 sustained injuries from the blast and were sent to hospital for treatment.

Eight rescue teams were working on the site, but the operation has been hampered by the thick smoke from a fire caused by the explosion, team members said.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged a prompt investigation into the accident and had sent condolences to the bereaved families.

A special commission headed by Emergency Minister Viktor Khrapunov was already on its way to the mine, local media said.