Vorkuta -- A Hardscrabble Town That Is No Stranger To Tragedy
Vorkuta is a brutal place. This Russian city of 70,000 just north of the Arctic Circle is almost completely dependent on coal mining. It was founded in 1932 as one of the most notorious camps of the Stalin-era gulag system. Out of the initial group of 1,500 prisoners who were sent to the barren wasteland, only 54 survived the ordeal. Nowadays, sons continue to follow their fathers into the mines and the city is still no stranger to tragedy. In late February, a series of methane explosions at the Severnaya coal mine left 36 people dead.