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Kyrgyz PM Orders Probe Into Mines After Deadly Accident

(RFE/RL) BISHKEK, November 27, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Feliks Kulov has ordered a government commission to look into how safety rules are being observed at the country's mines.

Kyrgyzstan's news agency quoted Kulov as saying all mines that do not meet safety standards should be closed.

Kulov's decision comes three days after five workers died of gas poisoning at a mine in the southern town of Suluktu, in the Batken region.

First Deputy Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov, who visited the site of the accident, said today that preliminary findings show the miners may have failed to follow "elementary safety rules."

"I think this happened because of a lack of discipline at the mine," he added. "To tell the truth, there has been complete chaos there for the past 15 years. The chief engineer, the head of the mine section, and the head of the shift should have followed safety instructions."

Nikolai Sologub, the head of the department in charge of monitoring Kyrgyzstan's mining sector at the Emergency Situations Ministry, said safety rules are being violated at nearly all of the country's mines.

Sologub says his department has only 33 inspectors to monitor all private and state-owned mines in Kyrgyzstan, compared with 500 inspectors in Soviet times.

(with and Kabar)

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