Bus carrying miners crashes, killing 17

Friday, December 19, 2003

KIEV, Ukraine -- A bus carrying miners headed for a seaside holiday veered off a mountain road and plunged into a deep ditch on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, killing 17 people and injuring 19 others, officials said Thursday. The driver lost control of the bus on the road from the Crimean capital of Simferopol to the Black Sea resort city of Alushta on Wednesday night, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. A preliminary investigation indicated that the brakes had failed. Seven of the injured were in critical condition.

The miners were from the city of Pavlohrad in Ukraine's eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, the Interfax news agency reported, and had been awarded the weeklong trip in recognition of superior work.

Saturday was declared a day of mourning for the region, and residents in the capital Kiev also expressed regret after the accident.

"Now the miners die not only on the job, but on the vacations, too," said Ihor Prykhodko, 30.

Hundreds of miners die each year in Ukraine's coal mines, considered among the world's deadliest due to high concentrations of methane gas, frequent violations of safety rules and outdated equipment. Nearly 200 miners have died in Ukraine's mines this year. In all, some 3,700 have been killed since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

According to Russia's NTV television, the driver yelled that the brakes failed and tried to stop the bus against a stone wall on the roadside, then managed to jump out before it plunged off the road.

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