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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Hunt for survivors at flooded Russian diamond mine

Some 300,000 cubic metres of water, the equivalent of 120 Olympic-size swimming pools, flooded the mine

The Mir mine was launched in 2009 and produces a million tonnes of diamond ore per year REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo
The Mir mine was launched in 2009 and produces a million tonnes of diamond ore per year REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

Eight people remain missing in a flooded diamond mine, as rescuers continue to pull survivors from the disaster.

More than 100 people have been rescued from the Mir mine in Russia’s Sakha region - 2,600 miles east of Moscow - but efforts continue to retrieve those still trapped inside.

On Saturday, an injured worker was pulled alive from the mine. Alisher Mirzayev is in a serious but stable condition in hospital, according to Mir owner Alrosa.

The 36-year-old is being treated in intensive care for hypothermia, but he is expected to make a recovery.

Disaster struck on Friday afternoon when water broke through into one of the mine's pumping stations from a flooded disused crater that contained some 300,000 cubic metres of water, the emergency situations ministry said.

The volume of water is the equivalent of 120 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Alrosa said the flood was thought to have been caused by an "uncontrolled increase in the flow of water" out of the mine's abandoned crater into the underground shaft, caused by sudden geological processes and the washing away of rocks in the crater.

However, the company insisted that all of the mine's equipment had been subject to regular testing.

The Sakha region's branch of the Investigative Committee, which probes serious crimes, said in a statement Friday that it was investigating possible safety violations at the mine.

Russian television said the rescue operation at the mine named Mir, or peace in Russian, had been hampered by a power cut that stopped the lift system from working.

Television channels showed footage posted on social media of water flooding into a control room from the ceiling of underground passageways.

Alrosa, which is Russia's largest diamond producer, said Friday that 133 people had been evacuated from the mine. Two were taken to hospital with minor injuries, the region's health ministry said.

The Mir mine was launched in 2009 and produces a million tonnes of diamond ore per year. Last year the diamonds it produced totalled 3.19 million carats, according to the company's website.

The last major mining accident in Russia saw 36 people killed by methane explosions that ripped through Severnaya coal mine north of the Arctic Circle in February 2016.

In 2010, 91 people died after a methane explosion at the Raspadskaya coal mine in the Siberian region of Kemerovo.