A methane gas explosion in a Ukrainian coal mine has left more than thirty miners dead. Rescue efforts were done until nightfall, with separatist authorities blaming the government of Ukraine for its apparent ineptitude with the search-and-rescue operation.
Zasyadko mine, located more than 3,200 feet below ground level, experienced the blast before dawn. The mine is located in Donetsk city, an area in the Donbass region currently witness to a year of armed conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Moscow fighters. The number of casualties from the fights has already surpassed 6,000.
When the Associated Press reported the news of the explosion, only 24 bodies out of the missing 33 were found. Authorities were hopeful that the remaining nine somehow survived.
But hope turned to gloom when Reuters reported that all 33 miners have been confirmed dead late Wednesday. There were no survivors among those trapped in the rubble.
Mine officials assumed that the explosion was caused by gas and not the ongoing skirmishes between the rebels and the government forces.
Relatives of the miners stood outside the gates, all of whom hoping for good news.
“Tell me, are there survivors? Why are you concealing the truth?” sister of miner Alexei Novoselsky asked a rescuer.
Sixteen people have been rushed to the hospital. Miner Eduard Dmitrenko had been less hopeful any of the missing miners would be found alive, but that “they will of course find bodies.”
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had ordered rescuers to enter the mine to search for casualties.
“I demand Ukrainian rescue workers and investigators to be granted access at the site of the tragedy,” he said in a tweet.
Aleksandr Zakharchenko, separatist leader, had issued a closedown of Zasyadko mine one month ago. The decision was ignored by managers owing to the fact that it belongs to Ukraine, CNN reported.