MOSCOW (AP), — Saturday’s ruling by a Russian court ordered five people to remain pre-trial detention for a period of two months while they await an investigation into a deadly blast at a Siberia coal mine that caused dozens of deaths.
Russian authorities reported 51 deaths following a methane explosion at the Listvyazhnaya Mine in the Kemerovo Region in southwestern Siberia. The incident occurred on Thursday. This tragedy is the most tragic in Russia since 2010.
The Central District Court of Kemerovo sentenced Sergei Makhrakov (director of Listvyazhnaya’s Listvyazhnaya Mine), his deputy Andrei Molostvov, and Sergei Gerasimenok, section supervisor. They are accused of violating safety regulations for hazardous production facilities, which led to multiple deaths. They could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison if convicted.
Sergei Vinokurov, and Vyacheslav Smykin, both officials from Rostekhnadzor’s local branch, Russia’s state technology and ecology watchdog, were also jailed for two month on charges of negligence that caused two or more deaths. This offense can lead to up to seven years imprisonment.
Friday’s announcement by law enforcement officials stated that miners had complained to authorities about the mine’s high levels of methane. Meduza, Russia’s most trusted news source, stated that authorities had suspended certain sections of the mine nine years ago and issued fines totaling more than 4,000,000 rubles (roughly $53,000 for safety violations).
At the time of the explosion Thursday morning, 285 miners were at Listvyazhnaya’s Listvyazhnaya Mine. The mine quickly became toxic from the smoke. 239 people were rescued within minutes of the explosion, while more than 60 sought medical attention for a variety of injuries.
Officials said that 11 miners and three rescuers died while searching for other survivors in the remote area of the mine. Rescuers had to stop their search for 35 miners trapped in the mine after they discovered methane and carbon monoxide gas.
The rescuers, along with the trapped miners, went missing on Thursday. Search teams discovered one rescuer still conscious and alive in the mine on Friday morning. He is currently being treated at a hospital for shock and carbon monoxide poisoning with moderate severity.
Officials described the rescue as a miracle and stated that it was unlikely that any survivors would be found at that time.
Sergei Tsivilyov, Governor of Kemerovo, announced Saturday that the search operation would resume. He stated that everyone must be lifted to the surface, but cautioned that rescue teams should act cautiously.
Tsivilyov posted on Telegram that “we don’t have any right to lose even one person more.”
Search teams located the bodies of five miners on Saturday afternoon.