Death toll rises to 45 in ArcelorMittal Kazakh coal mine fire

ALMATY (Reuters) -The death toll from a fire at a coal mine in Kazakhstan owned by ArcelorMittal rose to 45 on Sunday, with emergency teams engaged in an operation to find one remaining miner believed to have been underground, emergency service officials were quoted as saying.

On Saturday, operator ArcelorMittal Temirtau, the local unit of Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal, said 206 of 252 people at the Kostenko mine had been evacuated after what appeared to be a methane blast.

Gennady Silinsky, a senior emergency services official, on Sunday confirmed the death toll and continuing operation in Karaganda, a major coal mining centre, to Kazakhstan’s Khabar-24 television.

“Work is going on round the clock in shifts in two areas of operations,” Murat Katpanov, another emergency official, told Khabar-24.

“Gas levels are normal. There are no visible signs of fire.”

Earlier statements said rescue operations in the two areas – 4 km (2.5 miles) apart – were hampered by power cuts and wrecked equipment.

(Reporting by Mariya Gordeyeva and Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Osborn, Alexander Smith, Ron Popeski and Marguerita Choy)