Death toll in Kazakhstan mine blast rises to 41

The death toll from a methane explosion at an Arcelor Mittal-owned coal mine in Kazakhstan rose to 41 on Thursday after searchers found the body of the last missing miner, an official said.

Zhanar Bekbanova, Karaganda regional administration spokeswoman, said all 368 miners underground at the time of Wednesday's blast were now accounted for.

The explosion was one of the worst mining accidents to hit the Central Asian nation in years. Seven miners were pulled out alive and hospitalized after it ripped through the Lenin mine in the town of Shakhtinsk, emergency officials said.

Grigori Prezent, acting head of the Mittal Steel Temirtau coal mines, said the last body was recovered Thursday morning and that three of the injured miners were in serious condition.

Prezent said the repair brigade that was underground at the time of the explosion was working on extending the mine's ventilation system. He said such works require shutting off the ventilation, which leads to the accumulation of gases in a mine, reports AP.

"Some negligence took place, electricity was turned on in the mine that had not been properly aired. This might have provoked the explosion," Prezent told reporters in Shakhtinsk.

"There was a sudden flash, fire and smoke and we ran," Anatoli Surmay, one of the injured miners, said from his hospital bed, his face burnt and covered with cuts and his ribs broken.

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