Thursday, Oct 30, 2003
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By Vladimir Radyuhin
The miners were pulled out to safety on Wednesday through a rescue tunnel cut from an adjacent shaft to the partially flooded mine.
One miner was found dead and another was still missing.
There were 71 miners working in the Zapadnaya mine in the Rostov-on-Don region, about 1,000 km south of Moscow, when water from a subterranean lake above their 800-metre-deep colliery burst through flooding several shafts.
Twenty-five miners managed to escape to the surface unaided, and another 33 were rescued on Saturday.
The remaining 13 took refuge in a shaft cut off by rising water.
They could only be reached today when rescue workers bored their way through more than 60 metres of rock from a neighbouring colliery, while trucks dumped hundreds of cubic metres of earth and rock into the stricken mine in an attempt to plug the leak.
Declining safety standards in Russia's privatised coal industry have increased the number of accident in the mines. Just as the miners were being rescued in Roston-on-Don, a powerful explosion caused by methane gas killed five miners in the Russian Far East.
According to the Independent Coal Miners' Union of Russia, 68 miners were killed on the job last year and 98 in 2001.
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