AMSJ » Underground fire kills 45 coal employees

Underground fire kills 45 coal employees


A resources giant declared a day of mourning, following a subterranean blaze that ended dozens of lives.

ArcelorMittal confirmed the company’s entire operations will grieve dozens of recent deaths at its Kostenco coal mine, 210km southeast of Astana.

“No words can adequately do justice to the immensity of the tragedy. Our deepest condolences are extended to the bereaved families,” the company website said.

“On Monday 30th October all offices and operations will mark a period of silence at 11am.”

The remarks came after Kazakh authorities confirmed 45 deceased employees with at least one more missing at the time of publication.

The deadly fire was reported on October 28 after 206 workers were “safely evacuated” to the mine surface. Investigators are examining whether a methane explosion occurred.

Senior emergency services spokesperson Murat Katpanov revealed rescuers are working “around the clock”, struggling with both power and equipment outages.

“Gas levels are normal. There are no visible signs of fire,” he said according to Reuters.

The proponent acknowledged there have been multiple health and safety concerns since 1995. The company eventually reinforced underground structures during 2020.

“Unfortunately, operating them has involved inherently high safety risks owing to their complex geology and this has led to a number of fatal accidents over the past two years,” CEO Aditya Mittal said in a public statement.

The proponent now intends to nationalise the operation.

“ArcelorMittal can also confirm, as communicated earlier … by the government of Kazakhstan, that the two parties have been in discussions concerning the future of ArcelorMittal Temirtau and recently signed a preliminary agreement for a transaction that will transfer ownership to the republic,” Mittal said.

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