Russia: Hopes Fade as Water Rises in Mine

Oct. 27, 2003
Rescuers are despairing of reaching 13 trapped coal miners in the Zapadnaya Mine in southern Russia before rising waters reach them.

In a scene reminiscent of Pennsylvania's Quecreek Mine accident last year, a group of Russian miners were forced to run for their lives when an underground lake broke through the shaft where they were working and flooded the tunnel. Thirty-three other miners also were trapped, but they were rescued on Saturday.

Rescuers with tunneling equipment are trying to break through into the Zapadnaya Mine from a nearby mine, a distance of about 185 feet. With water levels rising at about 20 inches an hour, things are looking grim for the miners.

One government official predicted the water would flood the area where the men are believed to be huddled by Oct. 28.

While rescue efforts continue, engineers are scrambling to find a way to stabilize the mine walls and seal up the flow of water. Metal support beams supporting tons of rocks are being used to try to stop the flood of water into the mine.

Although no contact has been made with the trapped miners, rescuers are hopeful that if they reached an air pocket, they still survive.

"Hopes for the rescue of the miners is still alive," Deputy Regional Governor Ivan Stanislavov told ITAR-TASS, the government's news agency.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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