Russia's NTV today showing miners at the Ulyanovskaya mine (epa)
March 19, 2007 -- An underground explosion ripped through a Siberian coal mine this morning, killing at least 71 miners.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry says 168 miners were working when the blast occurred at the Ulyanovskaya mine in the Kemerovo region, about 3,000 kilometers east of Moscow.
Rescuers have safely evacuated 88 of them, though dozens remain trapped.
Local officials said the explosion was a methane blast.
Explosions caused by methane are not unusual in the Kemerovo coal basin, where many mines lack modern security equipment.
The Ulyanovskaya mine, however, is one of the newest in the area. It opened in 2002 and produces 3 million metric tons of coal a year.
(Reuters, AFP, AP, ITAR-TASS)