On February 28 during efforts to save miners who were trapped following a underground rock burst at a Russian coal mine, a third explosion occurred, killing five rescue workers and one miner. Due to the degree of destruction and the level of methane gas concentration in the mine, the 26 trapped miners have also been presumed dead, according to officials with the Emergency Commission.

Two explosions that caused a tunnel collapse at the Severnaya mine in the town of Vorkuta in the Komi Republic, Russia, on February 25 left four miners dead and more than 100 trapped underground. The methane-induced blasts also triggered rockslides. In the first few hours following the accident, 80 miners were evacuated. Since that time, more than 500 rescuers worked around the clock to save the remaining miners with no luck.

“The directors and management of Severstal and Vorkutaugol express their deepest condolences and will provide support to the families, colleagues and friends of those affected by this tragic incident,” officials with Vorkutaugol said.

Mining operations at Severnaya remain suspended. The Emergency Commission determined that the initial blast was caused by geological reasons rather than an error or equipment failure. Employees at the mine have been placed on paid leave. An assessment for the continuation of mining operations at Severnaya is under way, but experts said if restoration is successful, the mine can return to full-scale operations within six to 12 months.