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Zasyadko coal mine, previously the largest mine in Ukraine, and now located in the occupied territory, is well known for its numerous accidents which have caused the deaths of hundreds of miners. Today another accident happened. The enterprise was de-energized due to militants’ shelling and 203 miners were left under the ground. We recall the story of the mine and the largest accident at this enterprise.
Zasyadko mine is one of the historic mines of Donbas. Located in the now occupied Donetsk at Zasyadko Avenue, designed by the Yuzhgiproshaht institute, it is in operation since 1958. In 1963 it was named in honor of Alexander Zasyadko, Soviet statesman, Minister of coal industry of the Union in the 1949-1955 year, and Minister of coal industry of the Ukrainian SSR in 1955-1956.
Projected capacity of the mine was initially 1.2 million tonnes of coal per year. However, after the exploration of stocks and consolidation with other mines – the F. Cohn mine and mine №8 Vetka, the new capacity level was set at 1968-1970 - 1.5 million tons of coal per year. Since the beginning of 80s the mine regularly overfulfilled production targets, for which was awarded by the Order of Lenin. So, in 1998 Zasyadko mine at first time produced 3 million tons of coal, and in 2003 it produced 4 million tons.
The mine withdrew from the Donetskvugillia state enterprise and was transferred to the State Property Fund of Ukraine as a leased enterprise in 1992. Agricultural production is the second activity of Zasyadko mine leased enterprise ". In 1998, there was created a subsidiary agricultural firm "Miner", which was included in the list of the largest pig holdings in Ukraine.
In 1979, the post of Zasyadko coal mine director, according to the decision of USSR Coal Ministry and the Donetsk region leadership was appointed Yefim Zviagilskiy, the deputy of all convocations, and now - MP from the opposition bloc. Zviagilskiy worked at the office until 1992, and then became the honorary president of the company, de facto, as the owner of the mine.
This mine is considered one of the most dangerous, not only in Ukraine but also in the world. It is characterized by the sudden ejection of methane gas and coal dust explosiveness. Works are conducted in difficult mining-geological conditions; miners develop at great depths explosive, spontaneously combustible coal seams with methane emissions. Over the past few years at the mine, in addition to various kinds of small accidents, there were emergencies with a large number of human victims.
Major accidents at Zasyadko coal mine
Thus on May 24, 1999 at the Zasyadko coal mine took place of the greatest accidents in the history of the country. As a result, 50 miners were killed, 40 people injured.
More lives of people have been taken in an accident on August 19, 2001. Then in an explosion of methane-air mixture 55 people were killed - 45 right at the mine, 10 died in the hospital. 34 miners were treated in the hospital. 10 people reported missing. Possible cause of the accident – is the spontaneous combustion of coal. The culprits were identified and fired. Among them - the deputy head of safety and ventilation, chief power engineer and chief mechanic. However, no one was convicted.
On July 31, 2002 at a depth of 1058 meters during blasting works took place an explosion of methane and coal dust. At the bottom of the mine were 21 people. Going down under the ground, rescuers found 20 dead miners. One miner was alive; he was hospitalized with injuries of moderate severity. The cause of the explosion was conducting blasting works in gassy atmosphere in violation of safety regulations. As a result of high temperature detonation products set on fire the methane-air mixture.
On August 19, 2002 there was an ignition of an electric cable. The fire started during a shift change when under the ground gathered the maximum number of people – 1680. Two cages in which there were a total of 48 people stuck in the mine full of smoke. Most of them immediately used the self-rescuers, but 18 miners were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning.
On September 20, 2006 at 05:10 a.m. at a depth of 1078 meters there was a sudden ejection of coal and gas. In a moment of ejection 49 miners were working on the site. 19 people worked in the lava, in which the emission of methane occurred. The automatic gas protection worked and the explosion did not happen, but the voltage was turned off, and the miners were poisoned by gas. As a result of the accident 13 people died of suffocation, 16 people were hospitalized. This is the official report of the accident. Unofficially, the miners said that there was a fatal concentration of methane gas at the site. According to safety instructions if the methane concentration reaches 2%, then the people should be withdrawn immediately to the safe place. But the director of the production did not withdraw people from the danger zone, but also gave the order regarding the work for the next shift. And at 5 o'clock in the morning there was an accident.
The tragedy of 2007
On November 18, 2007 the massive disaster among all Ukrainian coal mines after happened at Zasyadko coal mine - 101 miners died.
At 3:11 a.m. on the 1078 horizon during drilling degasification wells (designed precisely to reduce the risk of methane emissions), there was an explosion of methane-air mixture. Explosion was followed by a fire, extinguished with the help of 350 rescuers of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Only in the evening it became possible to localize the fire and reduce the temperature and the concentration of methane in the lava to get out of dead bodies. At the time of the explosion there were 457 people in the mine, 357 miners were brought to the surface, 28 of them were taken to hospital. Most suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. By November, 23 bodies of 89 miners were found and raised to the surface, 11 missing miners were confirmed dead.
Two weeks later, on December 1, when the mine has resumed its work on the same horizon, there was a second explosion - 52 miners have suffered; the next day – on December 2 - the third explosion killed 5 rescuers and 30 miners have been hospitalized with poisoning by the mine gas.
Subsequently, one of the injured in the first explosion miners died, so the number of victims as a result of three explosions reached 106 people.
Reporters started to call Zasyadko mine - "the mine-killer."
After the third explosion, President Viktor Yushchenko demanded the closure of the mine until all the circumstances and causes of explosions occurred there on November 18 and December 1-2 will be found out and explained. However, Yulia Tymoshenko who headed the government in December 2007, stated that the company, which is considered one of the most promising in the Ukrainian coal mining industry, will not be closed. In November 2008, a government commission has identified more than 20 officials responsible for the accident. Information about them has not been disclosed.
In the summer of 2014 Donetsk was captured by DNR militants and mine got under control of the new administration. There have been cases of attacks on the mine, which led to blackout of the enterprise. In November 2014 one person died as a result of a missile hit the Zasyadko mine slagheap.
In 2015, on March 4 at 5:20 a.m. there was another methane explosion. There were 207 people in the mine, 34 miners were killed, and another 14 workers were injured. The so-called DNR republic refused of the Ukraine’s help in the rescue of victims. 33 dead bodies were lifted on a surface within two days after the accident, one more miner died in hospital on March 6. The so-called General Prosecutor of DNR filed charges against six officials of the enterprise: general director, technical director, deputy director on the mine safety, the chief specialist on ventilation and safety, chief specialist on preventive work on safety and the chief of the section number 2.