Russian mine blast kills four

A methane gas explosion at a Russian coal mine in the arctic Vorkuta region killed at least four miners and injured five, while trapping about two dozen others inside the mine, officials said. By evening, hopes of finding the trapped miners alive was diminishing rapidly, the Interfax news agency said, citing local officials.

Russian coal mines, with their aging equipment and deteriorating safety standards, have been plagued by a string of accidents in recent months. In December, 67 miners were killed by a methane gas explosion in a mine in Siberia. Thirteen other miners were killed in separate accidents in 1997.

- AP, Moscow

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