At least 52 dead in Russia coal mine fire

Rescuers (pictured) were evacuated, following fears of an explosion at the Siberian mine. Credit: AP

A fire at a coal mine in Russia on Thursday has left 52 people dead and dozens more injured.

Rescue efforts were halted on Thursday afternoon after fears of an explosion, with rescuers rushed out the mine.

Another 239 people were rescued.

The fire took place at the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region of Siberia, which is part of Russia.

According to Russia's Tass news agency, coal dust caught fire and smoke quickly filled the mine via its ventilation system.

Ambulances were called to the Listvyazhnaya coal mine after the incident. Credit: AP

According to Kemerovo governor Sergei Tsivilyov 285 people were in the mine at the time of the fire and 239 of them have been evacuated, but 46 other miners are still trapped underground.

Mr Tsivilyov said in a post on messaging app Telegram that 49 people were injured in the fire.

But Alexander Chupriyan, Russia’s acting minister for emergency situations, said 44 miners have been taken to hospital with injuries.

The difference in injury numbers from different officials could not be verified.

A criminal probe into the fire has been launched by Russia’s Investigative Committee. The probe will investigate whether the mine violated safety regulations, which led to deaths.

Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, gave his condolences to the families of the miners on Thursday. He ordered the government to assist those injured, his spokesman said.

Coal mine safety has been an issue in Russia for a number of years, 36 miners were killed following coal mine explosions in Russia's far north, in 2016. After this incident, Russian authorities assessed the safety of the country’s 58 coal mines and 20 of Russia's mines - 34% - were then declared potentially unsafe.

The Listvyazhnaya mine wasn’t judged to be unsafe in this assessment, according to media reports.

The mine was inspected most recently on November 19, Interfax reported. The results of last week's inspection weren't disclosed.

According to Tass, the mine was inspected in April, with 139 different violations recorded, which included breaches of fire safety regulations.