Aug. 5 (UPI) — Eight miners remain missing inside one of Russia’s largest diamond mines after a water cavern collapsed on a section of the mine when 142 people were inside.
Most of the miners were able to escape on their own. Rescue workers helped pull a handful of them from the shaft, but officials with Alrosa, the company that operates the mine, said eight employees are still unaccounted for, RadioFree Europe reported.
A spokesman for Alrosa said they remained hopeful the eight miners were still alive. Water levels inside the mine were stable and electricity was still working, potential good signs they were able to find a safe place to await rescue. At one point shortly after the water collapse Friday night, rescuers were able to make contact with two or three of the trapped miners, though it wasn’t immediately clear if that was still the case.
The mine is located in Mirny, Siberia. Russia’s Emergency Management Ministry declared a state of emergency in Mirny and dozens of mine recovery experts and a dive team were sent to assist in the rescue effort.
About 300,000 cubic meters of water, the equivalent of 120 Olympic swimming pools, that had been stored in a discharge pond flooded into the mine after the collapse. The cause remains unknown.
Officials said the timing of the incident was fortunate. It happened at the beginning of a work shift, meaning employees had not descended deep into the mine when the flood happened.