Story Highlights• About 200 miners were inside the mine when the blast occurred
• Accident occurred at the Ulyanovskaya mine in Kemerovo region
• A special investigative team is on its way to the site of the disaster
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- At least 75 miners are dead, a number that could rise, and at least 43 are missing after a methane gas explosion Monday at a coal mine in southwestern Siberia, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said.
The ministry said 84 miners have been rescued.
About 200 miners were inside the mine at the time of the blast.
Among the missing were company officials and safety experts who had been inspecting a British-made hazard-monitoring system, said Sergei Cheremnov, a regional government spokesman, according to The Associated Press.
A British man and his interpreter were among the dead, Cheremnov added, according to AP. It was unclear what they were doing in the mine.
The accident occurred at the Ulyanovskaya mine in Kemerovo region about 11:16 a.m. Moscow time (4:16 a.m. ET). A special investigative team was sent to the disaster site, the ministry said.
The mine operated with new equipment, said Alexander Sergiev, chairman of the Independent Coal Miners' Union, according to AP, but he added that human and natural factors always created the potential for accidents.
The mine, which opened in 2002, is in the city of Novokuznetsk, about 3,000 kilometers (1,850 miles) east of Moscow. It's in a major Russian industrial region, with some of the world's largest deposits of coal.
Russia has a history of accidents in its coal industry.
In 2005, 21 miners were killed in one incident. In 2004, another incident killed 45 workers.
CNN's Igor Krotov and Matthew Chance contributed to this report
Copyright 2007 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.
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