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Russian mine blasts kill 11, trap dozens more

From Max Tkachenko, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A pair of explosions at Russia's largest coal mine has left 11 dead, state media said
  • Explosions have trapped roughly 70 others -- including 20 rescue workers
  • Rescue operations were suspended Sunday because of limited visibility in the mine
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Moscow, Russia (CNN) -- A pair of explosions at Russia's largest coal mine has left 11 dead and has trapped roughly 70 others -- including 20 rescue workers -- the country's state-run TV reported Sunday.

Rescue operations were suspended Sunday because smoke has limited visibility in the mine, the country's official Russia Today television channel reported. The blasts disabled the mine's ventilation system and breathing air for the trapped miners and rescuers is running out, the channel reported.

Russia's Emergency Ministry said that 359 people had been working in the mine, near the western Siberian town of Mezhdurechensk, when -- according to Russia Today -- a gas explosion occurred around midnight Saturday (1 p.m. ET).

About four hours later, a second gas explosion occurred, Russia Today reported.

Many of those rescued from the mine, called Raspadskaya, have injuries and were being taken to local hospitals, Russia Today reported.

Earlier Sunday, local officials blamed the accident on a partial rock collapse inside the mine.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged federal aid in responding to the disaster.

Mezhdurechensk is about 2,000 miles east of Moscow.