Russia’s Perm Krai and the city of Solikamsk are mourning the loss of nine construction workers who died after a potash mine owned by the Uralkali company burst into flames, trapping the men some 360 meters underground.
Perm Governor Maxim Reshetnikov declared a day of mourning for December 24, stipulating that national flags be flown at half-staff and advising cultural organizations and broadcasters to cancel entertainment events and comedy shows, Interfax reported on December 23.
The blaze broke out on December 22 at a depth of 340 meters at the mine in Solikamsk, some 215 kilometers from the major city of Perm, near the Urals.
Officials with Uralkali said the trapped workers were employees of a subcontractor doing maintenance work at the potash mine. Potash is a common ingredient in fertilizer.
Their bodies were recovered early on December 23 after rescue workers battled through flames and heavy smoke in the mine.
Officials said five of the victims were residents of the Perm Krai, three were from Bashkortostan, and one from Krasnodar.
Officials said 17 people had been in the mine when the fire broke out and that eight made it out safely.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged regional authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the fire.
Deadly disasters have struck other Russian mines, with poor safety standards often blamed.
The last reported major Russian mining accident occurred in August 2017, when eight workers disappeared during a flood in an eastern Siberian diamond mine run by state-controlled diamond giant Alrosa.
Alrosa said the workers were at a depth of 210 meters when the flooding began on August 4 at Mir mine in the Sakha-Yakutia region, 4,160 kilometers east of Moscow.
The rest of the 151 workers who were in the mine at the time of the accident were rescued.
With reporting by AP, Interfax, and TASS