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Ukraine: 80 Coal Miners Killed In Explosion

Kyiv, 13 March 2000 (RFE/RL) - The first funerals for 80 coal miners killed in an explosion in a mine in eastern Ukraine on Saturday are scheduled for today. Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko, who postponed an official visit to the U.S. after the accident, is expected to attend. Today is also the first of two days of national mourning. Ukrainian flags will fly at half-mast and no light entertainment will be televised.

Ukraine's Emergencies Ministry said last night that the explosion appeared to have been caused by an "overconcentration of coal dust which ignited with a flame or spark." Earlier, the ministry had pointed to a methane gas leak.

The explosion at the Barakova mine, at Krasnodon in the Lugansk region, is Ukraine's worst single mining accident in decades. Yesterday, rescue workers brought out the last of 80 bodies recovered from the mine. Seven people remained in hospital with burns and head wounds.