KEMEROVO, March 20 (RIA Novosti) - A British citizen has been identified among the victims of a methane explosion at a coal mine in West Siberia, a spokesperson for local administration said Tuesday.
Ian Malcolm Robertson was a project manager at the IMC company that was conducting an assessment of coal reserves at the Ulyanovskaya mine in the Kemerovo Region, the spokesman said.
The regional governor, Aman Tuleyev, earlier confirmed the death of a British citizen.
"He was a financial services consultant," the official said. "The mine had several loans and he [the British expert] wanted to evaluate coal reserves and the work of the mine."
The death toll in the Monday explosion at the mine has risen to 97, while the fate of 13 miners remains unknown, the emergencies ministry said Tuesday.
The spokesman for the local administration also said that at least 20 senior management officials died in the blast that ripped through the mine Monday morning.
"The chief engineer, the chief mechanic, a section manager and deputy directors of the Ulyanovskaya mine are among the victims," he said.
Rescuers are continuing work at the site. Early morning reports said rescue workers had brought 38 bodies up to the surface and 22 of them have been identified.
The Russian Prosecutor General's Office said a criminal investigation had been launched into the explosion.
Local authorities earlier said the blast was apparently caused by a build-up of methane gas in the shaft of the mine.
Explosions are not uncommon in Russia's crumbling coal mining industry. Earlier this year, a miner was killed February 25 when a shaft collapsed at a coal mine in the Kemerovo Region and a miner was killed and nine injured during a similar accident on March 1 at another coal mine in the same region.
But the Ulyanovksaya mine was only opened in 2002. It produces 3 million metric tons of coal annually and its reserves total 210 million metric tons.