Mine Death Toll Reaches 60, Missing Count Hits 30

APRescuers carrying the coffin of a colleague killed in the Raspadskaya mine on Wednesday.

Rescuers found eight bodies but no survivors in a stricken Siberian coal mine on Wednesday after powerful weekend blasts that have killed at least 60 miners and rescuers, emergency officials said.

Thirty workers were still missing three days after the explosions in the Raspadskaya mine in Mezhdurechensk in the Kemerovo region.

Hopes of finding any alive were fading fast as grieving relatives buried the bodies of victims recovered from the mine.

Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said rescuers were trying to make their way to the remotest corner of the sprawling mine.

"We have 24 hours to bring miners out of there, if there are any there," Shoigu said, Interfax reported.

An explosion that authorities said was a methane gas blast ripped through the mine late Saturday, followed hours later by a stronger blast that wrecked the mine's main ventilation shaft and badly damaged buildings on the surface.

The mine disaster was the deadliest since 110 people died after a methane blast at the Ulyanovskaya mine, also in the Kemerovo region, in March 2007.

Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleyev said material damages from the blast would likely exceed 5 billion rubles ($165 million).

"We calculate that damages from the destruction of the buildings above the mine are 700 million rubles and that inside the mine it is about 5 billion rubles," Tuleyev said, Interfax reported. "This isn't a final figure."

He estimated that it would take about eight months to repair the damage.

But the Kemerovo region's press service on Tuesday quoted Raspadskaya's director, Gennady Kozovoi, as saying it could take several years to fully restore operations.

Raspadskaya declined to comment Wednesday, but its deputy director, Vladimir Goryachkin, told Interfax that the company planned to fully restore the most badly damaged section of the mine within eight months.

Shares in the company, Russia's largest stand-alone coking coal producer, plunged 23.4 percent on the MICEX Index on Tuesday but recovered some of these losses Wednesday, with the shares trading up 5 percent at midday.

Raspadskaya says its mine is Russia's largest underground coal mine, and analysts said the disaster could affect supplies and drive up prices in a tight market.

Raspadskaya produced 13 percent to 14 percent of total Russian coking coal concentrate output in 2009, supplying steel giants Evraz, MMK and NLMK, Citigroup analysts said in a research note.

Troika Dialog said the accident would likely hurt Evraz and NLMK in addition to Raspadskaya.

The mine could be out of operation for a month or two and is unlikely to reach full capacity until the fourth quarter of 2010, Troika said in a research note.

See also:

Putin Visits Mine as Death Toll Passes 50

Deadly Explosions Raise Questions over Russian Mining Safety

New Explosion Rocks Russian Mine – 6 Dead, 26 Presumed Dead

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