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Daily Archives: June 10, 2008

23 Ukrainian miners found alive after explosion

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by Olexander Khudoteply*

Twenty-three miners were found alive yesterday in a Ukrainian coal mine, more than 24 hours after they were trapped deep underground by a huge explosion, a rescue official said.
Thirteen miners were still being sought by rescuers, mine safety agency spokeswoman Marina Nikitina said.
"The rescuers are in contact with 21 miners, who are 875 metres below the surface. All are doing well…. Four of them are being brought to the surface," Nikitina said.
Earlier yesterday, one body was recovered from the blast and two surviving miners were brought to the surface. The two were in hospital and told reporters they were doing well.
But around 200 rescuers continued to search through the dust and rubble, the emergency situations ministry said, while flood waters were rising in the mine as water pumps had been damaged by the blast.
"The rescuers are doing everything possible and even impossible to assist other possible survivors," Nikitina said. "The water is rising, the groundwater pumps have been destroyed."
The blast occurred early Sunday at the mine in Yenakiyevo, 60 kilometres (40 miles) east of the regional capital Donetsk, the latest in a series of industrial accidents that have blighted Ukraine's mining industry.
It caused an inferno that even scorched buildings on the surface around the mine's entrances. Rescue workers were seen picking over the ruins of buildings at the mine, one of Ukraine's oldest, opened in 1958.
Five people on the surface were injured, including three women operating the elevator shaft who suffered serious burns, Nikitina said.
The mine was closed on Saturday due to safety violations and only a skeleton staff was working at the time of the blast, according to the emergency situations ministry.
But some miners told Ukraine's Kanal 5 television that work continued as usual into Sunday morning in spite of the closure.
"If the mine was up and running and coal was being produced in spite of the closure the public prosecutor will get involved and punishment will no doubt be severe," said Deputy Prime Minister Olexander Turchinov, Interfax news agency reported.
Police closed off the mine and journalists were only allowed to enter the administrative building.
Relatives of the trapped miners gathered in a nearby building, several complaining of a lack of information about the men.
Work had been suspended at 20 mines in the region following an explosion on May 23 that killed 11 people, one of a series of disasters to strike the region's ageing pits in recent years.
In November last year, a gas explosion at the Zasiadko mine in Donetsk killed 101 miners. That accident was the worst of its kind in this former Soviet republic.



PM pays tribute as Britain loses 100th soldier in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted yesterday that deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan were not in vain, after Britain lost its 100th soldier there since 2001.
Defence Secretary Des Browne hailed the struggle in Afghanistan as a "noble cause," after a suicide attack in southern Helmand province killed three soldiers Sunday just outside their base.
Britain has about 7,800 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of whom are in Helmand, where the Taliban has been waging a bloody insurgency since being ousted from power after the US-led invasion in late 2001.
"I want to pay tribute to the courage of all the 100 British troops who have given their lives in Afghanistan in the service of their country," he said in a statement," Brown said in a statement.
"They have paid the ultimate price, but they have achieved something of lasting value — helping turn a lawless region sheltering terrorists into an emerging democracy."
He added: "I do not believe democracy in Afghanistan would have survived without NATO and UN support; and British forces have been on the front line of that international effort."
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defence staff, said he hoped that the families of the dead soldiers would find comfort in the fact that "our forces are engaged in a most worthy and noble endeavour".
"Right across the country, the international effort is beginning to effect real change," he said.
The Taliban's influence was "waning", he added.
"These deaths, though hard to bear, remind us all of the extraordinary sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf — and of the price of failure if we falter in Afghanistan," Stirrup said.
"We continue to owe them a great debt of gratitude."
Defence Secretary Des Browne, haling the efforts of British troops in Afghanistan, said they were helping to make the world safer from the "scourge" of terrorism.
"Afghanistan is the noble cause of the 21st century and I passionately believe that," he told BBC radio.
"There is not one member of our services… who questions the rightness of this cause.
"Their frustration, if anything, is that people back here in the United Kingdom don't understand what they are achieving and that none of the positives of what they are doing, they believe, are fully understood by people back here."
He said British troops were transforming the heartland of the Taliban from an area of lawless oppression and terrorism to a place of democracy and development.
The trio who were killed were on a routine foot patrol about one kilometre (0.6 miles) west of their base. They fell victim to a "suicide explosive device", the Ministry of Defence said.
A fourth soldier, who was also wounded in the attack, is expected to recover.
All the soldiers, part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, were part of the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment.