Image copyright Facebook Image caption Inmates had been used as drillers to find a vital component in the mine
Russia’s deputy energy minister has announced that more than 50 miners have died in a weekend accident at a gold mine in the country’s central Tver region.
Oleg Korzhov told the Interfax news agency that the number of miners still missing was now 13, down from an earlier report of up to 22.
The mine’s owner said the accident was an “isolated” act, and insisted that the mine was being restored.
It is the latest in a string of mine disasters in Russia.
More than 500 people have died in 10 accidents in the country in the past 12 months.
Many of these incidents involved violations of safety standards and use of substandard technology.
In the recent accidents, Russian authorities have been accused of doing little to improve safety conditions.
Interfax reports that dozens of people were trapped after a three-level breach in the coal mine ceiling became visible at around midday on Saturday.
On Sunday, the rescue operation began again, with the miners to be drilled into from platforms near the surface.
Inmates had previously been used as drillers in an attempt to find a key component in the mine.
The mine, named Arkutdin-No.1, is believed to be among the biggest gold mines in Russia, and its majority shareholder is Arktika Daning Association.
Arktika Daning Association chairman Alexander Kravchenko said in a statement on Monday that he believed the mine would be fully reopened.
“We are going to fully recover,” he said.
“The best case scenario is that the survivors will be rescued soon and it’s all over and there will be no serious consequences. We cannot feel relaxed about this, but … work is being done.”
If the trapped miners are not found in the next two days, the country’s media will be given unprecedented access to the search process.