Putin Orders Thorough Investigation of Coal Mine Blasts that Killed at least 47

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered an investigation into explosions at a Siberian coal mine run by OAO Raspadskaya that killed at least 47 people, saying the whole industry will need to learn lessons from the disaster.

“The situation at the mine and actions of the company officials require the most thorough investigation,” Putin said in a televised government meeting today in Kemerovo province, where the mine is located. “We need to know what caused so many deaths, what led to this big tragedy.”, BusinessWeek reports.

Hundreds of workers scrambled out of the mine after a small blast on Saturday night. A larger explosion four hours later wrecked the central ventilation shaft and sealed stragglers in a 250-mile labyrinth of tunnels. The second blast seared and crumpled multistory buildings on the surface.

The 36-year-old Raspadskaya coal mine is 40 percent owned by the steelmaking giant Evraz Group. Evraz also owned a 50 percent stake in the company that operated the Ulyanovskaya mine, the site of the huge methane blast three years ago. In that case, authorities later said the mine’s management deliberately disabled a methane detector in an attempt to increase production, New York Times says.

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