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Kazakhstan mourns for 42 dead in ArcelorMittal mine disaster

KARAGANDA: Kazakhstan held nationwide mourning on Sunday (Oct 29) after 42 people died in a blaze at an ArcelorMittal mine, the worst accident in the Central Asian country’s post-Soviet history.

The tragedy, which struck at the Kostenko coal mine in the Karaganda region on Saturday, came after a series of deadly incidents at ArcelorMittal mines and has prompted the nationalisation of the company’s local affiliate.

“As of 3pm (9am GMT), the bodies of 42 people were found,” Kazakhstan’s emergency services said on social media.

“The search for four miners continues.”

Rescuers earlier warned that chances of finding the remaining miners alive were “very low”, due to the lack of ventilation and the force of Saturday’s explosion, which spread over 2km.

The death toll overtook a 2006 accident that killed 41 miners at another ArcelorMittal site. It also came just two months after another incident killed five miners.

Anger and disbelief reigned after the disaster in Karaganda, central Kazakhstan.

“Every miner is a hero, because when he goes down, he does not know if he will come back or not,” said former miner Sergei Glazkov.

Many welcomed the government’s move towards nationalisation, angered by the company’s safety record.

Daniar Mustafin, a 42-year-old salesman, said that he favoured “full nationalisation without material compensation for the current owners”.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has ordered cooperation with the Luxembourg-based company to be “brought to an end”.


There were 252 people inside the mine when the fire started, ArcelorMittal said.

Outside a hospital in Karaganda, relatives of those who had survived the blast were thanking the heavens.

“His guardian angel saved him. He is alive,” said Nikolai Bralin, the brother of an injured miner.

“Two of his ribs were slightly torn apart from the blow and he had surgery to put them back in place,” he added.

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