A coal mine collapse in Siberia, 3,500km (2,175 miles) east of Moscow, led to a deadly day in Russia when coal dust in the ventilation shaft caught fire on Thursday.  The deadly gas that filled the mine as a result of the explosion immediately killed 11 miners initially. The incident got worse as rescuers that went into the mine to help retrieve people got suffocated.

There were many that we’re able to escape and survive the mine collapse but many were left stranded later when rescuers who went in to save the miners suffocated due to the poisonous gas. All later rescue missions had to be halted as poisonous methane and carbon monoxide gas were detected in the aftermath of the mine collapse.

The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin called it “a great tragedy”, highlighting that he has ordered relative authoritative ministers to administer and provide whatever assistance is required in the incident. “Vladimir Putin expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the miners killed in an accident at the Listvyazhnaya mine in Kemerovo Region.” read The President of Russia’s statement.

Adding, “Kemerovo Region Governor Sergei Tsivilyov and Acting Minister of Emergencies Alexander Chupriyan have been instructed to arrange the necessary assistance to the victims and to make every possible effort to continue the rescue operation. The President will continue to receive reports on the situation throughout the day.”

Even though 285 people managed to escape the Listvyazhnaya mine collapse, the total death toll had risen to 52, including at least half-a-dozen rescuers that died due to suffocation inside the mine. Even those that managed to escape, 49 were taken to a hospital to get treated for several injuries including smoke poisoning. The situation at the time was so bad, an emergency service told the press, “no one is left alive.”

The director of the Listvyazhnaya mine and his deputy are both among three people who have been arrested on charges of negligence and violation of industry safety rules, by the investigative committee. The Kemerovo region is no stranger to such tragically unfortunate events in the past. The previous incident that killed more than 100 people was in 2007 as a result of the Ulyanovskaya mine collapse, due to an explosion. Another one occurred just 3 years later at the Raspadskaya mine in 2010 that led to 90 deaths.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been the first among world leaders to express his sympathies and condolences towards the bereaved families and victims of the mine collapse. He sent a message of condolence to the Russian president, in which he expressed his shock and extended sympathy on behalf of the people and government of China.