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Bulgaria: Government Blames Managers For Mine Explosion

Sofia, 8 September 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A Bulgarian government commission today said that criminal negligence led to a coal mine explosion in Bulgaria last week that killed 10 miners.

In a published report, the commission implicated 24 to 30 managers at the Bobov Dol coal mine, about 60 kilometers southwest of Sofia. No formal charges have been filed.

Seven miners were killed instantly in the explosion and three more died over the weekend from their injuries. About 20 others were hurt.

Miners told investigators they were sent to work near the blast site before a chamber had been properly ventilated. Methane gas is thought to have built up in that chamber during a one-month holiday recess.

President Petar Stoyanov and the government of Prime Minister Ivan Kostov are considering closing the mine, where there have been three fatal accidents already this year. But closure would cause about 2,000 layoffs and a 60 percent cut in the country's annual coal output.