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Miners trapped after blast kills 6

Ukraine's mines have one of the highest accident rates in the world  

KIEV, Ukraine (CNN) -- At least six miners have died and another four are in a critical condition after a gas explosion ripped through a Ukraine mine.

Rescuers are searching for another 28 miners trapped in the blast at the state-owned Yubeleinaya coal mine in the town of Pershotravensk on Sunday, the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry told CNN.

Four of the deaths were caused by the immediate impact of the explosion which happened 11.45 a.m. local time at a depth of 260 metres (800 feet) below ground.

The other two miners died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Six miners are in hospital suffering from burns.

About 45 miners were in the blast's immediate vicinity when the accident took place. A total of 423 were underground at the time.

Rescue workers are now attempting to clear their way to the remaining miners. Their condition is still not known.

It is the second accident at the mine in as many weeks after a fire broke out in the mine on July 6, when no fatalities were reported.

Also on July 6, a fire swept through another Ukrainian mine, killing 35 people.

Ukrainian mines are among the most dangerous in the world. At least 150 miners have died this year in accidents. On average, 300 to 400 miners die in accidents in Ukraine each year.

Since 1991, when Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, more than 3,700 miners have died in accidents.

Analysts say it would be cheaper for the Ukraine to import coal, and the World Bank has urged the country to close half its 220 ageing mines.

But fewer than 50 mines have been shut -- the government fears that closing its mines, which employ 400,000 nationwide, would lead to mass unemployment.

Last week, hundreds of coal workers demonstrated in the capital Kiev to demand back wages.

-- CNN's Ryan Chilcote contributed to this report




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