Ten people are dead and more than 60 are still missing after an explosion at a coal mine in the remote Siberian region of Norilsk.
The fire was reported at the Ostrogozen mine on Tuesday, the same day rescue workers began digging through debris to locate the trapped workers, according to Russian news agencies.
“Around 6:30 p.m. at about (a) 4- to 5-hour-long process, all the 11 miners (from the) dust chamber got out alive,” the spokesman for Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, Vladimir Puchkov, said, according to Interfax.
It was unclear how many people were dead and how many were missing because the eight entrances to the mine are manned by a single “source” and are locked from the outside, RIA Novosti reported.
The cause of the explosion at the mine — that some said was triggered by “incendiary materials” being used at the entrance, but was at least partially believed to be a gas explosion — was still being investigated, the official state news agency TASS reported.
Puchkov said all would be evacuated as a precaution from the area on Wednesday, according to the news agency TASS.
A lack of personnel could hamper rescue efforts, he added.
Yevgeny Gavrilov, the Emergencies Ministry’s deputy chief, confirmed the report, adding that the fire had at least partially been extinguished, TASS reported.
“The more human resources and equipment we can mobilize, the better. I hope we can put an end to this quickly,” he said, according to the agency.
Norilsk, which has Russia’s third-largest natural gas reserves, was the world’s largest exporter of coal before production fell in the 1990s and replaced with a low-sulfur blend. Oil makes up less than 10 percent of its total revenue.