Earthquake in Siberia brings coal mining to a standstill

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A 5.3-magnitude earthquake struck southwest Siberia's Kemerovo Region, one of the country's coal mining hubs early on Wednesday, driven the local governor to call a temporary halt in all underground coal operations, Russian agency Pravda reports.

According to data provided by the US Geological Service, it was the strongest earthquake to have hit the region in over 100 years, despite Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry estimating it to be magnitude 4.3.

The Moscow Times quoted Viktor Seleznyev, director of the Geophysical Service at the Siberian chapter Russian Academy of Science's, saying the tectonic movement was cause by human industrial activity related to the use of explosive in open-pit coal mines.

The quake destroyed more than 500 houses in the village of Bachatsky, home to about 16,000 people.

Mineral and metal-rich Siberia has vast deposits of oil, diamonds, gas and coal producers and in April 2013, Russia announced a billion-dollar investment in the region.