At least 14 people have died after a fire at a coal mine in Siberia left 35 others missing and feared.
authorities said 11 miners were found dead and three rescuers later died while searching for others trapped in a remote part of the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region.
Regional officials have declared three days of mourning for the victims.
Kemerovo governor Sergei Tsivilyov said 35 miners are still missing and their location is unknown.
Attempts to rescue those trapped in the mine, about 820 feet below the ground, were halted Thursday afternoon due to an explosion hazard and rescuers were rushed out of the mine.
The Interfax news agency reported that miners have oxygen supplies that would normally last six hours, which could be extended for a few more hours, but would have expired late Thursday.
Nearly 50 other miners were injured.
A total of 285 people were in the mine in the southwestern Russian region when the fire broke out and smoke quickly filled the space through the ventilation system.
The Russian Commission of Inquiry has launched a criminal investigation into the fire on charges of violating safety regulations that resulted in deaths.
President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the slain miners and ordered the government to provide all necessary assistance to the injured.
During a meeting with his Serbian colleague Aleksandar Vucic in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi, he noted the danger to life for the rescuers and expressed the hope that they would save as many people as possible.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at a coal mine in Russia’s far north. After the incident, authorities analyzed the safety of the country’s 58 coal mines and declared 20 of them, or 34%, to be potentially unsafe.
The Listvyazhnaya mine was not there at the time, according to media reports.
Russia’s technology and ecology watchdog, Rostekhnadzor, inspected the mine in April and recorded 139 violations, including violating fire safety regulations.
Another inspection of the mine was conducted on Friday, but the conclusions were not immediately reported.