Coal mine collapse death toll in Russia climbs to more than 50

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption How the disaster happened: the miners were at nightshift

The death toll in a Russian coal mine collapse has risen to more than 50, says state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Two days ago, mine workers at the Longukhir-1 mine, near the central city of Chita, said they had escaped with their lives.

They had managed to evacuate the mine before it collapsed early on Saturday.

A special operation has been launched to clear a road so the rescue operation can begin.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Smirnov said that until Sunday evening, some 60 people had been rescued from the mine, 20 of whom had been freed in the previous 24 hours.

An emergency ministry spokesman said on Monday morning that 49 workers had been confirmed dead.

The source of the accident remains unknown.

Police are keeping close watch over any officials involved in the rescue operation, the RIA Novosti agency said.

On Saturday night, rescuers picked up the body of the last survivor of the tragedy.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Russia’s coal mines tend to be more hazardous than in neighbouring countries

Miners at the mine worked through nightshift, and their arrivals had been halted for the past two nights to allow time for the work.

The provincial emergencies ministry has warned that time is running out.

It said it would close the mine for three months and would help rescuers to recover bodies.

There were 1,400 miners inside the mine when it collapsed.

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