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PHOTOS: 32 killed in east Ukraine mine blast

At least 17 have been killed with 16 more missing.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

A DAY OF mourning is being observed today in the Ukraine after 32 miners were killed in a blast at an accident-prone coal mine in the rebel-held city of Donetsk yesterday.

Rescuers found the bodies of 32 miners in the Zasyadko mine, with one person unaccounted for, a day after a blast ripped through the shaft, emergency officials of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said.

The early morning blast, believed to be caused by a build-up of methane gas, hit the Zasyadko mine near the city’s bomb-scarred airport in what officials described as a “terrible tragedy”.

Nearly half the bodies had been brought to the surface, according to the pro-Kiev administration of the Donetsk region.

“The rescue operation is still ongoing so the figure may change,” it said.

The head of the rebel Donetsk People’s Republic administration, Maksim Leshchenko, told reporters that 197 workers, out of 230 in the mine when the explosion occurred shortly before 4am, had been rescued alive.

Survivors are being treated in hospital for burns and gas poisoning.

PHOTOS: 32 killed in east Ukraine mine blast
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  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images
  • Russia Nemtsov

    Source: Alexander Zemlianichenko
  • Ukraine Mine Explosion

    Source: AP/Press Association Images

Day of mourning

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late Wednesday decreed a nationwide day of mourning, ordering that the Ukrainian flag be flown at half-mast and cancelling entertainment events.

The parliament at midday observed a minute’s silence.

Both Ukraine and Russia have offered to help with the search for survivors but the separatist authorities claimed that they had enough people and equipment.

Access to the mine was closed off by the rebels this morning, and psychologists at the scene were trying to comfort two women convinced that their miner husbands have died.

“We are trying to calm them down, we say that perhaps their husbands are still alive even though they don’t believe it,” said Oksana, one of the psychologists.

Kiev and rebels both report withdrawing equipment from the frontline as per the ceasefire agreement, the observation of which is closely watched by Western countries.

On Thursday, Kiev announced it was starting to pull back the notorious Grad rocket launchers as part of the next stage of the pullback spelt out in the deal struck in Minsk.

 

- © AFP, 2015

Read: Thousands line the streets of Moscow to pay last respects to slain Putin critic

Also: ‘He died for Russia’s future’: Tens of thousands march to honour Boris Nemtsov

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