MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) – The death toll in the gas blast at a coal mine in Russia’s northern republic of Komi has risen to 18, the republic’s Interior Ministry said on Monday.
“According to preliminary data, 18 people were killed and ten bodies have been pulled out to the surface,” the ministry said in a statement.
However, the Russian Investigative Committee puts the death toll figure at 15.
According to the regional Emergencies Ministry, twenty-six miners were working in the section of the mine where methane exploded at a depth of 800 meters. In total some 259 people were working at the mine at that time.
The Vorkutinskaya mine, in operation since 1973, is owned by the northern division of one of Russia's largest steel producers Severstal. It produces 1.8 million tons of coal annually.
Mine safety conditions in Russia have often been a cause for concern. In 2010, 91 workers died in twin methane gas explosions at a mine owned by the Raspadskaya company in the country's eastern Kemerovo region.
(Updates death toll)