63 Now Confirmed Dead in Ukraine Mine Explosion

By: AP
By: AP

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) _ Emergency officials in Ukraine say the death toll from a methane explosion in a coal mine has reached at least 63.

More than 360 miners were rescued but more than three dozen remain trapped inside the mine.

Officials say a raging fire is hampering efforts to reach them. Twenty eight of those rescued have been hospitalized.

One rescued miner says the dust after the blast was so thick he had to feel his way to the surface. He described touching the bodies of dead colleagues as he followed the rail track to the surface.

The accident is Ukraine's worst in seven years. The country's mines are among the world's most dangerous because of high concentrations of methane as well as safety violations and neglect.

Ukraine's president is blaming his Cabinet for not doing enough
to reform the industry and has ordered an official investigation of
the accident.

Local authorities have declared three days of mourning for the
dead miners.

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