Kazakhstan’s worst-ever mining incident kills 45

A fire at the ArcelorMittal Kostenko coal mine on 28 October claimed the lives of 45 workers, according to media reports.

Methane gas is to blame for the incident in the Karaganda region, according to Reuters and WION, which both called the event the worst in the region’s post-Soviet history. Rescuers were warned early in their effort that chances of finding survivors would be low due to the force of the fire’s resulting explosion as well as a lack of ventilation.

There were 252 people working underground at the time of the incident.

“It is impossible to summon words that adequately respond to the immense tragedy that has taken place. Our thoughts are especially with the families of those who have lost loved ones, but also for their colleagues and communities who have suffered grievous loss,” said CEO Aditya Mittal.

“We recognise that there is no adequate compensation for the losses they have suffered, but we will do everything in our power to support them in the weeks and months ahead.”

He also commented on its ownership of the Kazakhstan mines, which it has held since 1995.

“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,” Mittal added. “It is little consolation to say that the company expended considerable effort, further reinforced since 2020, in improving the safety performance of the ArcelorMittal Temirtau operations.”

Sources: Reuters, WION and ArcelorMittal 

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