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20 Killed in Ukraine Coal Mine Blast - 2002-08-01


Officials in Ukraine are investigating another deadly coal mining explosion in the country's eastern Donetsk region. Twenty miners were killed in the latest accident.

Rescue workers have retrieved the body of the last missing miner, bringing the death toll in the explosion late Wednesday to 20.

Only one miner survived the blast at the Zasyadko min, the third fatal mining accident to hit the former Soviet republic in less than one month.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation. But the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports the miners were drilling and blasting when the accident occurred.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has called for a full inspection of the safety of the country's coalmines and has ordered the closure of all mines that fail to meet acceptable standards.

President Kuchma and others in his administration have long feared closing the pits, which employ tens-of-thousands of workers in areas with few other jobs.

But now President Kuchma says neither Ukraine nor he needs coal at such a cost.

Ukrainian officials are investigating the two other mining disasters that killed 41-miners in July.

The country also is mourning the loss of 83-people killed in the world's deadliest air show disaster last weekend in Lviv.

President Kuchma says all the accidents highlight the need for people to follow proper safety procedures.

The events cast a pall over Thursday's scheduled anniversary celebrations for the creation of the Ukrainian navy, which was formed following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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