KIEV: Five people have died and 12 are missing following a coal mine blast in a separatist eastern region of Ukraine, news agencies reported Friday.
The gas blast ripped through the mine in Yurievka village in the self-proclaimed republic of Lugansk, which broke away from Kiev in 2014 and is run by Moscow-backed rebels.“Rescuers recovered the body of a fifth miner,” Leonid Pasechnik, the head of the unrecognised republic, said on Twitter.
He added that the fate of 12 other miners remains “unknown.”
Earlier the death toll accounted to three people.
Pasechnik called the explosion at the Skhidcarbon mine a “terrible tragedy.”
Russia’s emergency situations ministry sent mine rescuers to the separatist territory after it requested help, it said in a statement.
The Lugansk news agency said the mine was closed in 2014 due to the conflict between Kiev’s forces and the Russia-backed separatists, but was reopened in 2018.Most of Ukraine’s coal is produced in its eastern region, where the ongoing fighting has cost some 13,000 lives.
Kiev has tried to boost the operations of other pits under its control in the west of the country.