Death Toll in Donetsk Coal Mine Blast Reaches 32

DONETSK, Ukraine – At least 32 people perished in an explosion at a coal mine on Wednesday in Donetsk, the eastern Ukrainian city currently controlled by pro-Russian separatists, as reported by the local Emergency Department on Thursday.

Of the 32 miners trapped underground, a total of 31 people were found dead, bringing the death toll to 32, said Yuliana Debilo, the city spokeswoman for the emergency department, according to the official news agency of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Immediately after the explosion, there was one miner dead at the scene and nearly two dozen injured. Debilo explained that rescue teams are continuing to search for a missing miner.

In Kyiv, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared on Thursday the national day of mourning in memory of the miners killed in Donetsk.

The Zasyadko mine, which was opened during the Soviet Union era in 1958, is one of the most important mines in Ukraine.

The Zasyadko mine has a long history of accidents, the most serious of which occurred on Nov. 18, 2007, when 101 workers died.

The Ukrainian coal mines, particularly those located in the Donetsk coal basin, are among the most infamous for dozens of mining accidents every year.

The eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk has been the epicenter of an armed conflict between the Ukrainian forces and the pro-Russian separatist militias since April 2014, following a military campaign launched by Kyiv against the pro-Russian uprising that erupted in Donetsk and Luhansk.