Dozens killed in mine blast in eastern Ukraine

2015-03-05 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Local officials say at least 24 people have been killed and nine remain missing after a massive blast at a coal mine in war-torn eastern Ukraine. The announcement came while Kiev accused authorities in rebel-controlled Donetsk of not doing enough to save lives. 

Some relatives appeared to agree. "We want information about our loved ones," a desperate woman shouted, who was quickly whisked away by security. With dozens of people reportedly dead, relatives, some wailing, have been waiting overnight at the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk city.  

Wednesday's methane gas explosion more than 1,000 meters underground is known to have killed dozens of miners. At least 230 workers were inside at the time of the explosion. 

Valentina Petrova came to the mine looking for her 47-year-old son Vladimir. "He was support to retire next year," she said. "Everyone is angry that they say on television that 32 people died, but nobody tells us anything."  

It's the latest tragedy in this coal-rich region, which has been devastated by an ongoing conflict between government forces and pro-Russian separatists that has killed more than 6,000 people. 

Ukraine's central government in Kiev has accused the separatists who control Donetsk of not doing enough to find survivors. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said rebels even prevented a team of 60 Ukrainian rescuers from reaching the mine to provide assistance. 

Authorities denied Kiev had offered any help rebel official Denis Pushilin saying: "If we truly need assistance, we will turn to Russia," Pushilin was quoted as saying by the Donetsk News Agency. 

However seemed only miners were involved in search and rescue efforts. 

Some fought back back tears as they used an old mine elevator to go down, deep underground, to find survivors, or human remains.  

"We are still searching," an exhausted mine worker said, his face covered in coal dust. "We're still missing 30 colleagues."

The Zasyadko mine has a history of deadly accidents, including one in November 2007 that killed 101 workers, followed by others killing scores of people. 

Last year 99 people were reportedly killed in Ukraine's coal mines. They include more than a dozen as a result of the ongoing war.

Far away in Washington, Republican and Democratic US Congress members are pressuring President Barack Obama to deliver weapons to Ukraine's army amid concerns Russia is providing lethal aid to the rebels. 

Critics say this will add to even more death and destruction in a region now mourning those who died in a mine blast. 

Listen to this report by Stefan Bos




(from Vatican Radio)