The death toll from what it is already considered Russia’s worst coal mining disaster in recent history rose to 36 on Sunday as six rescuers were killed in a new explosion.
Russian authorities said Monday they are abandoning rescue efforts in the northern town of Vorkuta as they believe the 26 missing workers could not have survived the accident that killed four last week, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported (in Russian).
The incident happened on Thursday, after a methane explosion ripped through the Severnaya mine in Arctic Russia at a depth of 748 metres (2,450 feet).
The bodies of four miners were recovered after the initial disaster, but the remains of the six rescuers who died trying to reach the stranded miners are yet to be found.
Seventy-seven people were in the mine during the rescue operation when the latest explosion hit, the emergencies ministry said.
Of these, 71 were rescued and brought to the surface. Eleven of them were injured.
Three days of mourning have been declared in Komi Republic, the icy region of country’s polar north where the mine, owned by Vorkutaugol — a subsidiary of Russian steel maker Severstal— is located.
The nation’s coal mines have suffered multiple accidents in recent decades and are considered among the most dangerous in the world, as many of them lack of up to date safety features.