A Coal Mine In Siberia Exploded

Zakary Robinette

On November 25th, 2021, around 8:00 am, a coal mine in Listvyanka, Siberia, had an incident with an explosion. The explosion was caused when coal dust caught fire in a ventilation system, igniting the system and causing it to destroy the mine. A total of 287 people were in the mine; many people were able to escape, but 49 were injured and 51 people were killed in the blast. Five of the fatalities were rescue workers trying to evacuate people from the mine. A survivor was found buried under rubble during recovery efforts, and he was taken to a hospital in serious condition. Many other people were trapped by debris and called for rescue. The operation to rescue survivors was halted because of the high amount of toxic gas released from the explosion. The explosion filled the mines with gas and smoke, and many people died from the lack of oxygen and poisonous gas. The explosion cut off communication with the workers who were underground at the time of the incident, so the survivors had limited oxygen because of cave-ins.

The survivor, Alexander Zakorvyashin, part of the rescue team, was found conscious in the debris on Friday morning. He was sent to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning and physical injuries. “I can consider it a miracle,” Emergency Minister Alex Chupriyan told reporters. Governor Sergei said that it’s unlikely to find any more survivors. President Putin described the incident as “a great tragedy.”

Mining accidents are not uncommon; in 2004, a gas explosion killed 13 workers. In 2010, a mine had two explosions due to high amounts of methane where 91 people were killed, mostly taking place in Russia. In 2016, inspectors found around 34% of the 58 coal mines in the country to be unsafe for people. Listvyanka was not one of the unsafe mines.

Before the incident occurred, police had received many reports by miners complaining about the high amount of methane in the mine. Officials started an investigation checking on the safety inspections. They stated that the safety inspectors were not thorough with the mine inspections in early November and that the conditions of the mine became very poor over time. Family members of the victims told authorities that methane was always a problem in the mine. Over the past year, the mine has had many fire violations. Also, the mine was also shut down nine times and fined $55,000, according to the Tass news agency.

The owner of the mine is being investigated for overlooking the health conditions that the miners have to work in. He also ignored the safety violations that led to people losing their lives. The owner of the mine most likely disregarded the poor working conditions to save money. Russian mining safety rules state that workers are supposed to get to safety if large amounts of methane are detected in the mines. Anonymous miners told reporters that they kept working if there is methane because they don’t get paid when they stopped working. Each miner is equipped with a methane detector, but they often put water on the sensor so it will stop beeping and allow them to focus on their work.

Officials inspected 25 other mines in the area and found several safety violations. A criminal case was issued to help prevent more disasters. Over time, authorities tried to shut down coal mines but failed to do so. Coal is an extremely important resource to Russia, but it is very dangerous to handle.

The owner of the mine is expected to be charged for not keeping the mine safe for the workers and ignoring the rules to operate the mine.