Russia ends efforts to rescue trapped gold miners

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Rescuers entering Pioneer mine - Russian Emergencies Ministry handoutImage source, EPA

An operation to rescue 13 gold miners trapped by a landslide in the far east of Russia has ended with the miners presumed dead, Russian media report.

Efforts at the Pioneer mine in the Amur region could not continue due to fears of further rock collapses.

The landslide happened two weeks ago, trapping the miners more than 100m (328ft) underground. Possible shelter areas have been found to be flooded.

The mine is one of the world’s largest and one of Russia’s most productive.

Officials are investigating a possible breach of safety rules. The managing director of the facility was arrested last week.

“On 1 April, a decision was made to terminate the rescue operation at the Pioneer mine,” Interfax news agency quoted the operator Pokrovsky Mine as saying.

Officials said that cameras passed through boreholes drilled into the mine had shown that any areas that could have been used as hiding places by the trapped miners had been flooded with water, clay and ice.

“There is a risk to the lives of rescuers and staff of the mine taking part in the operation,” Pokrovsky Mine’s statement added.

Mine accidents are frequent in Russia, and are often blamed on poor safety standards and corruption.

In 2019 more than 15 gold miners were killed and dozens injured when a dam collapsed near their mine in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia, flooding their accommodation.

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