23 Found Alive; 1 Confirmed Dead After Massive Mine Explosion in Ukraine

Rescue teams found 23 miners alive following a powerful explosion at a coal mine in eastern Ukraine, but one miner was confirmed dead and 13 were missing more than 24 hours after the blast, an official said.

Emergency workers went deep into the mine in the Donbass coalfield to rescue survivors of Sunday's methane blast. They helped two people to the surface early Monday and later brought six more up, said Maryna Nikitina, a spokeswoman for Ukraine's industrial safety watchdog agency.

Rescuers also recovered one body.

The state-run Karl Marx mine — where another explosion killed seven in 1999 — had been declared too dangerous to operate, and the trapped miners were underground to improve safety conditions, officials said.

They were working about 3,300 feet underground at the time of the blast, which injured five workers above ground, destroyed several small buildings and shook the windows of the mine's administrative offices.

Despite the force of the blast, hopes for survivors rose when rescue teams heard voices when they tried to get to the trapped through a damaged shaft Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Turchynov said the ventilation system in the mine was still working.

Ukraine has some of the world's most dangerous mines because of outdated equipment and poor safety standards. Since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, more than 4,800 miners in Ukraine have been killed. Officials say that for every 1 million tons of coal brought to the surface in Ukraine, three miners lose their lives.

The mine is in the coal-rich Donetsk region about 400 miles southeast of the capital, Kiev.