REPORT: 500 Miners Trapped Underground in Ukraine
Nearly 500 Ukrainian miners are trapped and in the dark after an artillery shell hit the power station serving them. The incident occurred at noon on Monday, January 26. The Zasyadako coal mine is located in the city of Donetsk, which is the epicenter of furious fighting as Ukrainian government troops try to wrest control of the region from separatist rebels. Responsibility for the attack is unclear as both sides deny involvement.
Both the Zasyadako mine and the city of Donetsk are under siege. Interfax news agency reported that the mine experienced a similar blackout on January 12, when 390 miners were trapped. The Independent reports that just last week a shell hit the city’s tram and bus terminal in Kuprina Street during the morning rush hour. 13 people were killed and dozens were injured.
According to News Sky, “Leaders of the [separatist] rebels withdrew from peace talks with the Western-backed government in Kiev last week and pledged to seize new territory that could expand their reach over most of Ukraine’s industrial east.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the Ukrainian army “NATO’s foreign legion.”
News Sky cites Putin stating, “In essence, this is not an army, this is a foreign legion - in this particular case NATO's foreign legion, which of course does not pursue the objective of serving Ukraine's national interests.”
According to the Independent, the Zasyadako coal mine has a reputation for being one of the most deadly in the Ukraine. Over the last 15 years, 250 miners are believed to have died in accidents and explosions. In November 2007, it was the scene of one of the nation’s worst mining accidents when a huge methane gas explosion killed 101 workers.
To date, around 100 miners have been safely evacuated from this most recent catastrophe. Sky News reports that the blast did not damage the ventilations systems, sparing the workers’ lives.
UPDATE: According to The Guardian, all 500 miners have been removed without injury and the power station is back online.