The bodies of all nine workers trapped by fire in a Russian potash mine have been recovered, regional officials say.
Perm Krai officials on December 23 initially reported that eight bodies had been recovered but later confirmed that all nine had been found in the mine run by potash producer Uralkali near the city of Solikamsk, about 1,500 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
Perm Governor Maxim Reshetnikov said that "we did everything possible to save the nine miners.”
“Six attempts to reach them and extinguish open fire [failed]," he added.
Efforts to rescue the miners and recover the bodies were hampered by flames and heavy smoke in the mine.
The blaze broke out 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 miners were employees of a subcontractor doing maintenance work. Potash is a common ingredient in fertilizer.
The subcontractor's chief, Andrei Maksimov, had told the Interfax news agency on December 22 that the chances of finding the trapped miners alive were slim.
One source told Russian news agencies that 17 people had been in the mine when the fire broke out. The source added that eight had escaped to safety.
State-run TASS news agency said investigators have launched a criminal investigation into any possible safety and construction violations related to the fire.
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.