According to media reports, a methane gas explosion ripped through the Karl Marx mine on June 8, trapping 37 miners thousands of feet underground. Rescue teams are working to evacuate miners through a ventilation shaft.
The explosion, which occurred approximately 3,300 feet underground, caused widespread damage to the mine. The ventilation shaft used for rescue has been pushed down to the level where the explosion occurred in attempts to rescue the remaining miners.
A spokesperson for the regional mine safety inspectorate told Reuters that evacuating miners through the narrow ventilation shaft will be a lengthy process that could take hours.
Reuters also reported that five people on the surface were injured after being struck by equipment propelled by the explosion, which witnesses described as one of the “most powerful” blasts in the industry.
Operations at the Karl Marx mine, located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, were suspended days before the blast because of concerns surrounding the mine’s safety conditions. Miners were completing maintenance work at the time of the explosion.