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Blast at Russian coal mine kills 18

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.

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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.

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