The Listvyazhnaya mine director, his deputy and the disaster area supervisor have all since been arrested over alleged safety violations at the site
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Russia Coal Mine Fire
Credit: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Over 50 people are dead after dust and methane gas collected in the ventilation shaft of a Russian coal mine and caused a massive explosion on Thursday.

The accident occurred at the Listvyazhnaya mine in Belovo, a town in southern Siberia. There were 285 people inside at the time of the blast, Reuters reports. The explosion killed at least 52 people, according to The New York Times.

Five rescuers suffocated while trying to get workers out of the mine, which is 1,300 feet deep, before the effort to recover bodies ceased because of the high levels of methane gas.

On Friday, one rescuer was found alive, per The Washington Post. Alexander Zakovryashin, a 51-year-old doctor sent into the mine Thursday, is currently in serious condition and has no memory of what happened, officials said.

Russian Emergencies Minister Alexander Chupriyan described Zakovryashin's rescue as a "miracle carried out by our people," according to the BBC.

Recalling the accident, rescued miner Sergey Golubi said they didn't realize what was happening until reaching the surface.

"Impact. Air. Dust. And then, we smelled gas and just started walking out, as many as we could," Golubin said, per the Associated Press. "We didn't even realize what happened at first and took some gas in."

Sharing his own story, miner Rustam Chebelkov said, "I was crawling and then I felt them grabbing me. I reached my arms out to them, they couldn't see me, the visibility was bad."

Of the rescue team, he continued, "They grabbed me and pulled me out, if not for them, we'd be dead."

Russia Coal Mine Fire
Credit: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Local officials called for three days of mourning for the lives lost in the mine explosion, the AP reported, and President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to victims' families.

On Friday, workers' loved ones gathered outside the mine office, many of them in tears, according to the BBC. One woman left with a black plastic bag containing her son's clothes and boots.

"My boy is under the ground now," the unnamed mother told reporters. "There is nothing more to say."

After the accident, Russian news agencies reported that the Listvyazhnaya mine director, his deputy and disaster area supervisor were all arrested over alleged safety violations, per the BBC.

In April, an inspection by a Russian technology and ecology watchdog found 139 safety violations at the mine, the AP reported, including fire hazards.

Dmitry Demeshin, the country's deputy prosecutor general, told press that the explosion was likely caused by a methane explosion stemming from a spark.

The accident marks the most deadly mining tragedy in Russia in eleven years. In 2010, a fire and two methane explosions killed 91 at the Raspadskaya mine, which is in within the same Kemerovo region.

In 2004, a methane explosion killed 13 miners at the same Listvyazhnaya site, per the outlet.