Putin orders overhaul of mine safety after coal blast that killed 51

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows the premises of the Listvyazhnaya coal mine following a recent deadly accident in the Kemerovo region, Russia, November 28, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has requested a detailed examination of the country's efforts to improve coal mining safety on Thursday after an explosion killed 51 people last week in a Siberian mine.

Rescuers are still bringing bodies to the surface at the Listvyazhnaya mine in Siberia's Kemerovo coal-producing region.

"According to preliminary data, the accident was caused by a number of safety violations," Putin told a meeting with officials.

The Kemerovo region has a history of deadly disasters. The last big explosion killed 91 people in 2010. Four years earlier, another blast killed 110.

"Today we will examine how the decisions made 11 years ago after the terrible accident, the tragedy at the Raspadskaya mine, have been implemented," Putin said, referring to the 2010 blast. "It is clear that more steps will be needed here, including of an economic nature."

Initial reports from the mine came to the local emergency service 30 minutes after the accident, referring to smoke rather than an explosion, TASS news agency quoted a source at the service as saying on Thursday.

The mine is owned by SDS-Ugol, a company controlled by local businessman Mikhail Fedyaev and his partners. They said in a statement on Nov. 27 that they would provide payments to families of workers who died and repay family loans.

Three managers of the mine suspected of flouting safety standards and two safety inspectors suspected of criminal negligence were arrested.

"Those who, in the pursuit of profit or for any other reason, ignore, neglect the safety of people and put them at risk of death, should be held accountable under the law, harshly," Putin said.

(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Peter Graff)

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