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Missing Russian Miners Declared Dead, Rescue Work Halted

Altogether, 36 people have died as a result of a blast at the Severnaya mine in Russia’s Far East. (file photo)

Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry says 26 miners missing underground in Russia's Far East since a February 25 explosion at the Severnaya mine are dead -- raising the total death toll in the tragedy to 36.

The ministry made the announcement on February 28 just hours after an explosion at the mine near the city of Vorkutsk killed six rescuers.

Four miners were killed and nine were wounded when methane gas in the mine exploded on February 25.

The second explosion that killed six rescue workers has also been blamed on a build-up of methane gas inside the mine.

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said on February 28 that rescue operations were being halted because high temperatures and the lack of oxygen in the damaged part of the mine would "not allow anyone to survive."

Puchkov also said no contact had been made with any of the missing miners since the first explosion on February 25.

On February 28, authorities in Russia's Republic of Komi announced a three-day mourning period to pay tribute to the victims of the tragedy.

The six rescue workers who were killed are to be honored with posthumous state medals.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, BBC, TASS, and Interfax
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