Ukraine mine blast kills 17

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DONETSK, Ukraine, Nov 18 (Reuters) Seventeen miners were killed and 14 are missing after a methane explosion ripped through a mine in Ukraine's Donbass coalfield today, the latest of a string of accidents in the region's outdated mines.

Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry said 31 miners had been in the immediate vicinity of the 0300hrs local time blast at the Zasyadko mine in the coalfield's main town, Donetsk.

A total of 457 miners were underground at the mine when the accident occurred at a depth of more than 1,000 metres. More than 40 rescue teams had brought 297 miners to the surface, the ministry said.

Accidents frequently occur in Ukraine's coal mines, many of which date from the mid-19th century, and where experts say mining deep below the surface increases the risk of explosions.

Zasyadko has experienced several accidents in recent years.

Post-Soviet Ukraine's most deadly mining accident was in March 2000, when 80 miners were killed in a coal dust explosion at a colliery near the eastern town of Luhansk.

Reuters SG RN1430

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