Written by By Staff Writer, CNN
Russian officials have warned of a possible new state of emergency after more than 50 people died in the country’s second major mining disaster in two weeks.
The death toll from the Tibanne coal mine collapse was 49 as of Saturday, a police official told state-run TASS news agency.
“Regulations require that after bodies of workers have been recovered, the bodies of those who are still alive be moved and buried as soon as possible in accordance with the protocol,” senior regional security official Vyacheslav Masovsky said at a news conference Saturday.
In February, at least 62 miners died when the mine, in the Russian republic of Saratov, unexpectedly collapsed.
That was Russia’s worst mining disaster in more than three decades.
Tributes pour in for the fallen miners
Muscovites placed flowers and wreaths at the site of the latest tragedy on Saturday, as tributes poured in from around the world on social media.
The president of the Russian parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, gave her condolences to the bereaved families, state news agency TASS reported.
Matviyenko also spoke with the Interior Ministry and Federal Migration Service in Rostov-on-Don to discuss recovery efforts and “the organization of funerals,” TASS reported.
“The industrial commission in the region has already started working to detect the causes of the accident,” a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said.
Putin was preparing to fly to Saratov to meet local officials, the official said.
Salvage efforts paused
Fears were sparked after authorities had to halt rescue operations in the flooded mine after methane gas spiked up in the area where the ventilation system was shut down.
On Friday, according to the Investigative Committee, the coal mine that collapsed earlier this month had not been registered with inspectors.
A statement from the Committee said that since the accident occurred, “the miners’ disability benefits had been paid while the exploitation was going on at the pit.”