A court in Russia on November 27 ordered five people to remain in pretrial detention for two months pending a probe into an explosion at a coal mine in Siberia that left dozens dead.
Russian authorities reported 51 deaths after a suspect methane explosion rocked the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region in southwestern Siberia on November 25, killing 46 miners and five rescuers.
The Central District Court in the city of Kemerovo ruled to jail the director of the Listvyazhnaya mine, Sergei Makhrakov, his deputy Andrei Molostvov, and section supervisor Sergei Gerasimyonok.
They are facing charges of violating industrial safety requirements for hazardous production facilities that resulted in multiple deaths. If convicted, they could face up to seven years in prison.
Two officials of the local branch of Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s state technology and ecology watchdog -- Sergei Vinokurov and Vyacheslav Semykin -- have also been jailed for two months on a charge of negligence that led to two or more deaths, punishable by up to seven years in prison as well.
The two inspectors had issued a certificate for the mine this month but had not actually checked the facility.
Law enforcement officials said on November 26 that miners had complained about the high level of methane in the mine.
In all, 60 people remain hospitalized, four in serious condition, the Russian Health Ministry reported on November 27.
The head of the Kemerovo Oblast settlement of Prokopyevska, Vyacheslav Starchenko, was dismissed on November 26 for organizing a party in honor of his own appointment the previous day at a time when the entire Siberian region was officially in mourning. Regional Governor Sergei Tsivilev announced the dismissal, saying that those who attended the gathering “apparently have no heart.”
Kemerovo Oblast has declared a period of mourning from November 26 to November 28.
The accident at the mine, located some 3,500 kilometers east of Moscow, was Russia's worst since 2010 when explosions killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same region.