An explosion sounded in a coal mine in eastern Ukraine early Wednesday. At least 11 miners were killed in the explosion. Twenty-eight other miners are still missing, a rescue official said.
One of the 49 miners who had been unaccounted for after the blast was found alive and brought to the surface, and contact was made with nine others, who were injured and remained trapped below the surface, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Ihor Krol. The bodies of 11 others were found, he said, and rescue teams were pressing ahead to find the 28 still missing, the AP reports.
Krol said that "an unexpected eruption of a coal and gas mixture" had occurred early Wednesday morning at a depth of 1,078 meters (3,500 feet) in the Zasyadko mine in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region.
Work on the mine was immediately suspended, and 400 miners who were working in the mine at the time of the blast were evacuated. Forty-nine, however, did not made it to the surface, and contact with them was cut off. Initially, rescuers thought 43 had been unable to reach the surface.
Ukraine has some of the world's most dangerous mines, due to outdated equipment and poor safety standards. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, nearly 4,300 miners have been killed in accidents.
The Zasyadko mine has earned a reputation as one of the most deadly. In 2002, a methane explosion killed 20 miners. A year earlier, 54 died, also in an explosion of methane gas. In May 1999, 50 miners were killed in a methane and coal dust blast at Zasyadko.
Krol said that government officials were on their way the mine to oversee rescue operations.