Friday, July 29, 2011
"Officials say methane gas is to blame for an early-morning coal mine explosion that killed 17 people in the Ukraine on Friday.
The incident occurred at around 2 a.m. local time, when over 250 people were working the night shift about 3,000 feet underground. Nine people are still missing.
The Ukrainian coal mining industry, which employs about 600,000 people, is notorious for poor maintenance and lack of sufficient safety regulations to protect workers. In 2007, a deadly blast at another nearby mine killed over 100 people. The NY Times reports that Ukraine’s mine elevators are made of wooden planks and that the ropes that haul miners down the shafts are often tattered.
The recent incident occurred close on the heels of a transportation elevator collapse last week, which killed two workers and injured eight others. According to the New York Times, Mykhailo Volynets, the head of the Independent Trade Union of Miners, has said 70 percent of the equipment in Ukrainian mines is outdated and needs to be replaced."