AN explosion at Norilsk Nickel’s Zapolyarny mine in the far north of Russia has killed four people.
The blast at the mine, part of Norilsk Nickel’s Polar Division, happened at around 10:00 local time on 7 July. Three more people are currently in hospital with non life-threatening injuries. Search and rescue activities have been completed and all other personnel are now thought to have been evacuated from the mine to the surface. Local media outlets report that up to 165 people may have been underground at the time of the explosion.
The company says that preliminary investigations have shown that the explosion was caused by a build-up of methane in the mine due to a lack of ventilation and other gas safety violations. In a statement Norilsk Nickel blamed poor organisation on the part of line management, which allowed workers into the shaft despite the violations. Efforts to clear the gas build-up are ongoing.
Sergei Gradyushko, deputy director of industrial safety for Norilsk Nickel Polar Division said in a statement that an investigation has begun and is expected to last for around a month, although it could be extended at the request of the Russian president.
Norilsk Nickel expressed its “deep condolences” to the families of the deceased and confirmed that the families of those killed and injured would be entitled to financial support in the form of insurance payments.