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Desperate battle underway to save remaining 8 miners tapped in flood diamond mine

By The Siberian Times reporter
07 August 2017

Latest survivors give harrowing accounts of how they feared they would drown in underground tidal wave.

Climbers abseiled into the giant open cast Mir mine, a circular crater 1,250m across and 525m deep, to seek access to the missing workers. Picture EMERCOM

Industrial climbers are leading a rescue bid for eight men trapped for three days in the Mir diamond mine in the Yakutia region of eastern Siberia. 

Deputy head of the Emergencies Ministry Vladlen Aksenov said  that rescuers believe they know where four are, and are urgently seeking to reach them. 

Videos show the appalling conditions after water surged through the mine. 

Climbers abseiled into the giant open cast Mir mine, a circular crater 1,250m across and 525m deep, to seek access to the missing workers.

Relatives of the lost men have arrived in Mirny as one rescuer said: 'We do not give up hope of getting them out.'

Videos show the appalling conditions after water surged through the mine.

Yegor Borisov, head of the region, officially called Sakha Republic,  said ventilation and electrical systems were still working in the mine and pumping had removed much water. 

He was 'hopeful' the men could yet be found alive. A total of 151 were in the pit when the disaster struck.

Most were evacuated safely in the immediate aftermath of the shocking flood. 

Alisher Mirzaev, 36, the 143rd miner to be rescued, pulled out on Saturday, gave a harrowing account of how he almost drown in the underground deluge. 

Unconscious when he reached hospital, he said: 'My shift began. Suddenly all the lights went off, a wind came with fog and then suddenly huge amount of water with dirt crashed all over me.  

rescue operation


rescue operation

Industrial climbers are leading a rescue bid for eight men trapped for three days in the Mir diamond mine. Pictures: Almaz Media

'I had to swallow dirty and salty water, I couldn't breathe... Soon the wave was gone, the water level became lower and I realised that I was alive.

'Pipes, iron, all was bending because of the water pressure. 

'My leg was stuck but I managed to pull it safely, it was not broken. 

'We hoped for internal phones but all of them were smashed by water. 

'The water flow became quieter but water kept coming and falling on me. I had to move forwards and climb. 

Alisher

Alisher Mirzaev, 36, the 143rd miner to be rescued, pulled out on Saturday, gave a harrowing account of how he almost drown in the underground deluge. Picture: Life

'The water was up to my chest, cold and dirty water, and there was obstacles on my way, all those things brought by the water flow - pipes, planks, tyres, some rubbish. 

'I was going up, my leg was hurt, it was very hard of course.

'What could I do, I wanted to live? 

'I reached the next level and heard a phone call - it means there was communication, I was so happy, so I called the mine superintendent.

'They were so happy to hear from me. 

'There was no light but I had my personal lamp, it would have been very hard to reach the circle shaft without it, it was all dark, wet and in fog.'

Andrey

Andrey Unarov said: 'We had to think quickly and to act quickly, just within moments.' Picture: Life

Andrey Unarov - who also suffered broken bones and remains in hospital - said: 'We had to think quickly and to act quickly, just within moments. 

'There was a state of shock, yes... there were really shocked people. 

'There was one man there, he was so shocked, he could not say a word but he kept holding on. 

'I was holding on, this is why I survived.'

Another rescued miner Dolat Abdazov said: 'We were not really panicking. Of course, we wanted to live, we did our best. When I saw him (nodding at Unarov), I was so happy to see somebody alive.'

The lives of these three miners are not now in danger. 

Dolat

Another rescued miner Dolat Abdazov said: 'We were not really panicking. Of course, we wanted to live, we did our best. When I saw him (nodding at Unarov), I was so happy to see somebody alive.' Picture: Life

Those still missing are: Alexey Vlasenko, Roman Gulyaev,  Dmitry Mariyin and Mikhail Neustrovev, all drivers of drilling rigs, along with foreman Valentin Misnik, explosives technician Igor Stepanov, mineworker Gleb Mirontsev, and acting head of section Vitaly Kulikov.

Rescuers are searching for the missing men on levels 210 and 310. Lifting equipment is being used to clear the silt and debris. 

About 200 meters of the mine were cleaned up and more than 7 kilometres were checked by rescue workers during the day yesterday.

Rescuers are sending signals to missing miners via water and ventilation pipes.

'Specialists are tapping ventilation wells, giving a special signal, in response to which they will be able to indicate the location of miners trapped underground,' said a source.  

Inside the mine


Inside the mine


rescue operation


rescue operation

About 200 meters of the mine were cleaned up and more than 7 kilometres were checked by rescue workers during the day yesterday. Pictures: EMERCOM, ALROSA

Electricity is supplied to levels 210 and 310, the gas level is normal, oxygen is also normally coming into the mine.

'Apart from works inside the mine, we have called mountain climbers from Aykhal who are ready to work on the slopes of the crater,' said Aksenov.

'So far nine holes were made from the slope of the mine and down to the level 210 where according to our information 4 trapped miners can be. 

'The climbers are attempting to go down to them and to see them. 

'Works are going on, we are monitoring the situation with air and water in the mine.'

He said: 'Over the past 24 hours, rescuers and the mine workers have cleared 200 metres of debris.

'In all, more than 6,900 meters of unflooded areas have already been examined.'

Rescuers are searching for the missing men on levels 210 and 310.

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