Donetsk mine accident kills dozens

Mar 04, 2015, 1:24 PM EST
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images

At least 17 people were confirmed as being killed in a subterranean blast in Zasyadko mine in Donetsk, Ukraine Wednesday, Reuters reports. Other bodies are expected to be exhumed as well, and authorities reportedly fear there may be no survivors among the several dozen people who were underground during the explosion. 

Donetsk has been in the news over the past year as one of the strongholds of Russian-backed rebels in Eastern Ukraine. The Guardian reports that while the accident is not believed to be connected with the conflict, Kyiv has accused militants of hampering rescue efforts in the aftermath. One anonymous rescue worker said that as many as 50 miners may still be in the mine. Officials have urged surrounding fighters to grant aid workers access to the mine, but it may already be too late to save lives. 

The Donbass region of the country is a major coal producer. CNN reports that the blast is believed to have been a methane gas explosion. An accident in the same mine killed over 100 miners in 2007.

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