In the first few hours following the accident, 80 miners were evacuated. Rescue operations are still in progress to retrieve the remaining miners, but falling ground and strong fumigation is making it difficult, according to officials with Vorkutaugol, the operator of the mine. Eight miners suffered injuries and five of those were taken to the hospital, officials said.

An initial investigation by the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia into the incident revealed it was caused by methane emissions and a blast at the mine. At the time of the blast, 110 miners were working in the mine.

Vadim Larin, CEO of Severstal Management, the owner of Vorkutaugol, said, “On behalf of everyone at Severstal, I would like to express my deepest condolences to those affected by this tragic incident, particularly the friends and families of our valued colleagues who lost their lives. They will not be forgotten and the company will provide full support to all those affected by yesterday’s terrible events.”

An investigation to identify the cause of the accident is already under way, Larin said.