Weeping relatives and other mourners walked through the muddy streets of this Siberian city Thursday, scattering flowers as they buried dozens of miners killed in Russia's deadliest mining accident in more than a decade.
Emergency workers and mine searchers, meanwhile, continued searching for the last two miners missing from Monday's methane gas explosion amid the collapsed rock and seeping water in the Ulyanovskaya mine.
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A total of 108 miners and coal workers were killed in the blast, which occurred 885 feet underground; 93 other miners made it to the surface. Regional officials said a British employee of the British-German mining consultancy IMC was among the dead.
Investigators still were trying to determine what sparked the explosion in the mine, one of the largest in the region known as the Kuznetsk Basin. Nikolai Kultyn, an inspector with federal industrial regulator Rostekhnadzor, said one or possibly two explosions were followed by a sharp change in air pressure as parts of the mine collapsed.
In Novokuznetsk, about 1,850 miles east of Moscow, and surrounding areas, blowing snow drifted onto funeral processions as mourners carried wreaths and red coffins, and dropped flowers on the roads and paths en route to the cemeteries, reports AP.
Some five dozen miners whose bodies have been identified were being buried Thursday and in the coming days, Russian news agencies reported.
Regional Gov. Aman Tuleyev said workers were continuing to search the mine for the missing men, but rock debris and rising water was slowing the process.
The explosion highlighted the hazardous state of Russia's mining industry, which fell into disrepair when government subsidies dried up after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
According to the ITAR-Tass news agency, it was the deadliest mine accident in the region in 60 years.
"There should be no Russian who goes to sleep without wondering if they're going to get their throat slit in the middle of the night,” Milley said