OSINNIKI, Russia (AP) — The coal-blackened faces of
exhausted rescuers and the red-rimmed eyes of anxious relatives
told a grim story of disappearing hope yesterday, a day after a
methane blast tore through a Siberian mine, killing at least 42
miners.

Five miners remained missing in the latest disaster to strike
Russia’s hardscrabble coal country. “Most likely, they
will all be corpses,” said the head of a commission dealing
with the disaster.

The blast occurred early Saturday about 1,840 feet down in the
Taizhina mine in a coal-rich strip of western Siberia called the
Kuzbass.

Yesterday, emergency officials plotted rescue and recovery
strategies at one end of the mine’s Soviet-era administration
building, which is topped by a red star, while grieving relatives
sat or milled nervously in a rundown auditorium dominated by a
painting of a strong, smiling miner carrying flowers.

“They told me to wait,” said Tatyana Fatykhova, 34,
whose husband, Rashid, was underground when the blast occurred.

“They’ve pulled up some bodies, but they
haven’t identified them yet.”

Her husband’s name was not on the list of identified
victims posted by the stairwell.

The head of a government commission created to deal with the
disaster, Sergei Ovanesyan, said it was “practically
impossible” that any of those still missing would be found
alive.

Of the 42 bodies found, 36 had been retrieved and 29 of those
had been identified, said officials overseeing the recovery effort.
More than 600 miners work at the mine in the city of Osinniki,
according to ITAR-Tass news agency.

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