Blast in Ukraine's mine; 3 dead, 14 injured

Kiev: Three people have died and 14 are missing following a coal mine blast in a separatist region of eastern Ukraine.

The gas blast ripped through the mine in Yurievka village in the self-proclaimed Republic of Lugansk, which broke away from Kiev in 2014 and is run by Moscow-backed rebels.

"At the moment we understand three dead have been brought to the surface. The fate of 14 others is uncertain," local government official Yevgeny Katsavalov told the Lugansk news service.

Head of the unrecognised republic Leonid Pasechnik on Twitter called the explosion at the Skhidcarbon mine a "terrible tragedy". Emergency services were doing "everything necessary," he said.

The Lugansk news agency said the mine was closed in 2014 due to the conflict between Kiev's forces and the Russia-backed separatists, but was reopened in 2018.

Most of Ukraine's coal is produced in its eastern region, where the ongoing fighting has cost some 13,000 lives. Kiev has tried to boost the operations of other pits under its control in the west of the country.

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