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18 dead in Russia coal mine explosion

Russia Mine Blast_Leff.jpg

Feb. 11, 2013 - Central entrance to Vorkuninskaya coal mine in Vorkuta. (AP)

A blast at a coal mine in northern Russia on Monday killed 18 people, officials said Monday.

Rescuers have recovered 10 bodies at the Vorkutinskaya mine in Russia's Komi region, Vadim Kolesnikov, a duty officer at the Russian Interior Ministry, told the Associated Press.

There were 23 men in the mine at the time of the blast that happened because of the build-up of methane, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Two of them were able to get out of the mine on their own and three were rescued.

Russian investigators opened a probe into suspected violation of safety rules at the mine, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

Deadly accidents at coal mines are frequent in Russia because of negligence and recurrent violations of safety regulations. In January, nine people died in two separate mine accidents.