A failed rescue operation is underway in Russia, where at least 11 miners are believed to have died and dozens more trapped underground after an explosion and fire at a coal mine north of Moscow, Russian news agencies reported.
The blast occurred around 12:20 p.m. in the Ulyanovsk region, the state-run Interfax news agency reported, citing regional labor officials.
A man in his 60s was the only death confirmed immediately by those officials, according to the news agency. The exact number of people caught underground could not be immediately learned.
Photographs and video showed large amounts of smoke coming from the building at the mine in the Kemerovo region, on the Siberian border with the Urals. The underground mines in the region are kept relatively deep, usually about 6,000 feet.
About 200 rescue workers were seeking to remove a part of the mountain floor to allow access to trapped miners, which could take up to two days, authorities said.
Sibneft, the operating company for the mine, said it was working to ensure a search-and-rescue operation was conducted “in a safe and dignified way.”
President Vladimir Putin, who has visited the mining town, met with rescue workers on Monday, state television reported.
An initial investigation found that a portion of the mine collapsed, causing an “hydroacoustic explosion,” which sent smoke billowing from the mine, the news agency said. The explosion also broke a shaft pipe in the mine, trapping miners.