POPE JOHN PAUL II SADDENED
BY MINING CATASTROPHE IN UKRAINE
Country Holds Highest Mortality Rate of Miners
VATICAN CITY, MAR 13 (ZENIT.org).- John Paul II sent a message of
condolence and expressed his closeness to the families of 81 miners who
died in an explosion, and of 200 who survived the tragedy in the
Ukrainian region of Lugansk.
According to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, based on a preliminary
investigation, the accident was caused by a methane explosion due to
violation of security norms. However, labor union leaders attribute the
explosion to carbon dust ignited by soldering equipment. Close to 200
miners were able to escape unhurt after trying to rescue their trapped
fellow miners. The explosion occurred 664 meters underground.
Ukraine has the world's highest mortality rate in the mining industry.
This is nonetheless the worst catastrophe the country has endured since
gaining independence in 1991. A miner in Krasnodon receives wages $100 a
month. According to statistics, in the province of Lugansk, on the
Russian border, 30 million people live in abject poverty. In 1998, 282
miners died in Ukraine; one year later, 358 were buried. Some observers
say that during the Soviet period these catastrophes were kept from
public knowledge. However, many local sources agree that over the last
few years the observance of security regulations has diminished.
Consequently, every year Ukraine declares days of mourning to weep over
her sons buried in the mines.
Back to Metropolia Main Page.