Last bodies recovered from Ukrainian mine blast

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Crossing paths with rescuers retrieving bodies, investigators descended into a coal shaft Sunday to determine what caused an accident that killed 63 miners, Ukraine’s worst mine disaster this decade.
Above ground, distraught families watched as crews carried the last of the victims out of the Skachinskoho mine in Donetsk, a city of 1.1 million about 390 miles southeast of Kiev.
The two teams of investigators began looking into the causes of Saturday’s methane gas explosion and fire.
Skachinskoho has developed a reputation for being one of the most dangerous of the country’s deteriorating mines because of its tendency for methane buildups, Russia’s NTV reported.
Saturday’s blast was Ukraine’s worst coal mine accident since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991, Dunayev said. Accidents have become endemic in Ukraine’s coal industry, part of an overall pattern of post-Soviet deterioration.
Aging equipment, negligence and a shortage of funds have contributed to the poor safety conditions in Ukraine’s 229 coal mines that are still working. On-the-job accidents killed 290 coal workers last year, and more than 160 miners had been killed this year before Saturday’s blast.
President Leonid Kuchma signed a decree designating today a national day of mourning, state television reported.