MOSCOW — A blast at a coal mine in northern Russia on Monday killed 18 people, officials said.
Rescuers have recovered 10 bodies at the Vorkutinskaya mine in Russia’s Komi region, said Vadim Kolesnikov, a duty officer at the Russian Interior Ministry.
There were 23 men in the mine at the time of the blast, which was caused by a buildup of methane, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Two of them were able to get out on their own and three were rescued.
Russian investigators opened an inquiry into suspected violations of safety rules at the mine, which began operating in 1973, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to families of the victims and said they would receive compensation.
Deadly accidents at coal mines are frequent in Russia because of negligence and recurrent violations of safety regulations, although safety is considered to have improved since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Most of the accidents are attributed to methane explosions.
In January, nine people died in two mine accidents. A major mine blast killed 110 people in Kemerevo in 2007 and another explosion in the same region in 2010 killed more than 60.