(MENAFN- The Peninsula) MOSCOW: At least 11 miners died in a coal mining accident in Russia's Siberia today and an operation to rescue dozens more people stuck underground was suspended due to the risk of an explosion, the region's governor said.
Coal dust caught fire in a ventilation shaft in the Listvyazhnaya mine in the snowbound Kemerovo region early on Thursday, filling the mine with smoke, the TASS news agency cited local emergency services as saying.
'The chance of an explosion is very high. We've decided to suspend the search and rescue operation until the concentration of gas reduces,' Regional Governor Sergei Tsivilev said. Methane and CO2 levels were dangerously high, he said.
Eleven people were dead and 35 others were still underground, he said. Dozens were being treated in hospital, at least some of them with smoke poisoning. Four were in critical condition.
The coal industry region of Kemerovo roughly 3,500 km (2,175 miles) east of Moscow has been hit by fatal accidents for years.
The mine is part of SDS-Holding, owned by the privately held Siberian Business Union. The union had no immediate comment.
Before the rescue operation was halted, the governor said there was still electricity and ventilation in the mine, but that they had lost contact with some people deep underground.
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