At least 15 miners have been killed when a dam collapsed at a gold mine in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk Krai, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said.
Heavy rains had caused erosion of the dam and water had broken through, sweeping away several cabins where workers at the mine lived, Interfax quoted a local official as saying.
The Russian Health Ministry said that 14 miners were taken to hospital and three had suffered severe injuries. Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement it had opened a criminal probe into safety violations at the gold mine.
“The hydrotechnical facility was self-constructed and, I believe, all rules I can and can not think of were violated,” Yury Lapshin, the head of the Krasnoyarsk regional government, was quoted by RIA news agency as saying.
According to AFP, the dam belonged to the Sibzoloto holding company, which has not released any official comment on the incident so far.
More than 270 people were involved in a search-and-rescue operation, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Deadly accidents are relatively common in Russia, largely due to disregard to safety rules, poor management, and Soviet-era infrastructure.
In 2009, 75 people were killed in a massive flood at Russia's biggest hydroelectric plant in the Khakassia region of Siberia.