Fire at Listvyazhnaya mine in Kemerovo region kills at least 52 miners and rescuers, Russian media say.

Nearly 300 people were in the mine when the fire erupted and smoke quickly filled it through the ventilation system.
Nearly 300 people were in the mine when the fire erupted and smoke quickly filled it through the ventilation system. (AP)

A devastating explosion in a Siberian coal mine has left 52 miners and rescuers dead about (820 feet underground, Russian officials said.

Hours after a methane gas explosion and fire filled the mine with toxic fumes on Thursday, rescuers found 14 bodies but then were forced to halt the search for 38 others because of a buildup of methane and carbon monoxide gas from the fire. Another 239 people were rescued.

The state Tass and RIA-Novosti news agencies cited emergency officials as saying that there was no chance of finding any more survivors in the Listvyazhnaya mine, in the Kemerovo region of southwestern Siberia.

The Interfax news agency cited a representative of the regional administration who also put the death toll from Thursday’s accident at 52, saying they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A total of 285 people were in the mine when the fire erupted.

Criminal probe ordered

Russia's Investigative Committee has launched a criminal probe into the fire on charges of violating safety regulations that led to deaths.

Senior managers at the mine have been detained for suspected safety violations.

President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to the families of the killed miners and ordered the government to offer all the necessary assistance to those who were injured, Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

"We share the sorrow of the people of the Russian Federation, extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to the Government of the Russian Federation, and wish a speedy recovery to the injured," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions in a coal mine in Russia's far north. 

In the wake of the incident, the authorities analysed the safety of the country's 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them, or 34 percent, potentially unsafe.

The Listvyazhnaya mine wasn't on the list at the time, according to media reports.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies