[cifnmedia] 13 Russian Miners Trapped; Water Rising

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 06:02:50 -0800 (PST)

Updated: 10-26-2003 08:48:57 AM

13 Russian Miners Trapped; Water Rising 

NOVOSHAKHTINSK, Russia (AP) _ As water continued to flood into a coal mine, 
rescuers on Sunday labored with increasing anxiety to try to reach 13 miners 
they believe could still be alive three days after being trapped underground. 

On Saturday, 33 exhausted miners were brought to the surface. But emergency 
workers were unable to locate the position of 13 others in the Zapadnaya mine 
in southern Russia. 

``As far as we know, they are in a dry place with a temperature of 24 (75 
degrees Fahrenheit),'' said Viktor Kapkanshchikov, head of the Emergency 
Situations Ministry's rescue operation, on Sunday. 

But water was rising at such a rate that the mine could be completely flooded 
by midway through Tuesday, he said. 

The miners were working some 2,625 feet in the Zapadnaya mine Thursday when 
water from a subterranean lake leaked into a shaft above them, blocking their 
way to the surface, according to Col. Viktor Shkareda, head of the regional 
emergency department. 

A two-person rescue team that had gone down into the mine early Saturday 
reached the pitface where the men were trapped and were able to locate and 
establish contact with 33 of the miners, who eventually were brought to the 
surface on an elevator in a subsidiary shaft and taken to a local hospital. All 
were in satisfactory condition on Sunday, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. 

There were 71 miners working in the Zapadnaya mine in the Rostov-on-Don region, 
about 600 miles south of Moscow, when the accident happened, Shkareda said. 

He said 25 miners managed to escape to other pits and reach the surface after 
the leak filled several shafts. 

Electricity in the mine had been shut off, and the stranded miners had low 
batteries to light their lamps and no food, Shkareda said. But, he said, 
workers were able to provide ventilation to allow them to breathe during their 

Trucks had dumped thousands of cubic feet of earth and rock into the mine to 
plug the leak while rescuers carved tunnels from adjacent mines. 

According to ITAR-Tass, it was the second such accident at the Zapadnaya mine 
this year. It said water flooded the mine in February, but there were no people 
inside at the time. 

Accidents are common in the Russian coal industry, and miners stage frequent 
protests over wage delays and declining safety standards. According to the 
Independent Coal Miners' Union, 68 miners were killed on the job last year and 
98 in 2001. 


Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network

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