UPDATE 3-At least 7 dead in Russian coal mine blast

* Methane blast at big Siberian mine

* Agency says 64 miners still underground

(Adds report 8 dead, background from company website)

MOSCOW, May 9 (BestGrowthStock) – A methane blast at a large
Siberian coal mine killed at least seven people, emergency
officials said on Sunday.

There were 312 workers in the Raspadskaya mine in the
Kemerovo region when the blast occurred late on Saturday, Valery
Korchagin, a regional emergencies official, told Rossiya-24
television. Seven were confirmed dead and four injured, he said.

The Itar-Tass news agency later put the death toll at eight
and reported that 64 miners were still underground, also citing
regional emergency officials. It was not clear if any of them
were trapped.

The mine in the city of Mezhdurechensk had reserves of some
450 million tons of coal and produced 8.9 million tons in 2007,
according to the website of its owner, which is also called
Raspadskaya (RASP.MM: ). It says the pit is the largest
underground mine in Russia.

Raspadskaya, Russia’s largest stand-alone coking coal
producer, is part-owned by steel and mining firm Evraz Group
(HK1q.L: ).

Rossiya-24 said another blast three months ago killed one
worker at the mine, located in the coal-rich area of central
Siberia known as the Kuzbass.

Saturday’s blast occurred shortly before midnight (1700 GMT)
as Russians geared up for a major national holiday marking the
65th anniversary of the World War Two defeat of Nazi Germany.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered Emergencies Minister
Sergei Shoigu to ensure everything possible was done to rescue
the miners, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin spoke with
Kemerovo region governor Aman Tuleyev, Russian news agencies
reported.

Mine blasts and other industrial accidents have prompted
repeated calls from Russia’s leaders for improvements to
creaking infrastucture and stricter adherence to safety rules.

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(Reporting by Steve Gutterman; editing by Mark Trevelyan)

UPDATE 3-At least 7 dead in Russian coal mine blast