Authorities in the west Siberian town of Mezhdurechensk have cancelled Victory Day celebrations because of two methane explosions in a nearby Raspadskaya coal mine, which left at least 12 dead and 59 injured.
The two blasts occurred in the space of four hours late on Saturday and early on Sunday. A total of 64 workers were trapped after the first blast and 20 rescue workers went missing after the second.
Russian Emergencies Minister Sergey Soygu has arrived at the mine to lead the rescue operation, which has been put on hold amid fears of further explosions.
The director of the rescue operation has said efforts to save those trapped in the mine will continue when the level of methane, which is hoped to be at around midnight local time [18.00 GMT].
Over 560 people are working at the disaster to restore the mine shafts and ventilation system and monitor gas emissions from the mine.
Russian President Dimitry Medvedev has ordered the creation of a commission to mitigate the effects of the disaster and provide help to families of the dead and injured.
KAMEROVO, May 9 (RIA Novosti)