Donetsk, Nov 17 - DAN. A fire broke out at the Skochinsky coal mine when 26 workers were underground, the Donetsk People’s Republic Emergencies Ministry reported on Tuesday.

“At 5:20 on November 17, the Donetsk mine rescue team was alerted to a fire that occurred in belt road 5 located at the western face of the A.Skochinsky mine,” the report said. “There were 26 coalminers there as of the time of the accident.”

Twenty-two people were evacuated to the surface and examined by paramedics; no information about the remaining four workers is currently available “As of 15:00, the rescuers were monitoring gas levels in the tunnels adjacent to the accident site and taking air samples. The main fan is operating as usual. The company’s  Technical Council has met over further steps towards eliminating the aftermath of the emergency,” the Ministry said.

Three rescuers were hurt during the mission. They suffered bruises but were able to return to the surface unassisted. Ninety-eight people and 18 pieces of equipment are involved in the rescue effort.

The Skochinsky mine was commissioned in 1975. It produces quality metallurgical coals of grades “Zh” and “K”. The company has produced some 30 million tons of coal tunnelling some 250 kilometres since  the start of operation. The maximum tunnel depth is 1,350 metres. The company employs some 2,300 people.*jk