President Vladimir Putin has praised the performance of the militarized mountain-rescue detachments in the rescue operation at the Zapadnaya mine.
"The first teams arrived at the site 35 minutes after the alarm signal," the president said at the meeting with miners and rescuers Monday.
The general assessment was that the rescue teams demonstrated high professionalism and fine precision.
"All the technological decisions they made to remove the accident were correct, original and effective," the president added.
On October 23, 46 miners found themselves trapped underground by water seeping into the Zapadnaya-Kapitalnaya mine where they had been working. On October 25, the rescuers managed to lift 33 people to the surface. On October 29, 12 more miners were found, on e of then dead. Sergei Tkach, another miner, was reported missing, and the search for him was called off on October 31 on the grounds that it became dangerous for the rescuers, the Emergency Headquarters said.
President Putin highly praised the heroic performance of the emergency brigade led by Leonid Chobr. "It took them less than 6 days to carve a 62-meter-long tunnel to reach the trapped miners, which is normally a month's work," the president said.
"We all, I mean the whole country, held our fingers crossed for the miners in peril," the head of state noted.
"You had to go though an ordeal, but you stood it out, without falling into despair and panic," he said to the miners.
According to him, both the miners and the rescuers held on like a single team, supporting and helping each other. "That is why you won," the president concluded.
Putin said he really felt like singling out almost everyone, but he only had the time to name a few - Sergei Zhurkin and Viktor Zakharov. According to him, they were the ones to build up the team spirit, to organize the group and make sure it reached the bucket well. They helped support their teammates' morale.
Putin thanked everyone who took part in the rescue work, or helped by actions or advice.
"You all have shown you best professional and personal qualities, courage, and willingness to come to the rescue and fight for people's lives to the end," he added.
"Our people are famous for their team spirit, courage, support and self- sacrifice," said Putin. "It is very important for Russia today that you have shown it all unfailingly."