Death toll in Ukraine's mine blast rises to 72

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Moscow, Nov 19 (UNI) The death toll in the methane gas blast in Zasyadko coalmine in Donetsk in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine has risen to 72.

Russian television channels reported quoting Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Andriy Klyuyev that 30 miners still remained missing.

There were 457 miners working underground when the blast occurred yesterday and 357 have since been brought out alive to the surface.

Klyuyev said the bodies of 57 dead miners have been raised to the surface and 38 have been identified.

He also said 28 survivors have been hospitalised, one of them in critical condition.

Prosecutors said the criminal investigation into the cause of the blast would examine whether breaches in health and safety procedures had led to the deaths of the miners, adding that at present they had no ''concrete evidence'' of any violations.

Rescue teams are continuing to locate the missing miners, but are being hampered by a new fire which has broken out in the mine.

Earlier a trade union official told RIA Novosti news agency the chances of finding anyone else alive were slim.

Three days of mourning for the dead have been announced by local authorities.

UNI

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