Russia's Alrosa searching for nine miners missing after accident

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Rescue teams are searching for nine workers missing in an underground mine owned by Russian diamond miner Alrosa after water flooded in on Friday, the company said.

A total of 133 miners were brought to the surface after the flood started, Alrosa said in a statement citing its chief executive Sergey Ivanov. There were 142 workers underground when the accident happened and nine more were preparing to go down to the mine.

No casualties have been reported so far and there was no word from Alrosa on the chances that the nine missing miners could still be rescued. The water flooded into the mine shaft from an open-cast mine above it earlier on Friday.

State-controlled Alrosa is the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms. Together with Anglo American’s De Beers unit, it produces about half of the world’s rough diamonds.

The mine is in the remote and inhospitable Yakutia region of eastern Siberia. Soviet geologists discovered the first diamond deposits at the site in the 1950s.

Shares in Alrosa were down 1 percent in Moscow on Friday, underperforming a 0.6-percent decline in the broader MICEX index.

The underground mine - known as “Mir”, the Russian word for “peace” - accounts for 9 percent of Alrosa’s rough diamond production of gem quality, analysts at BCS investment bank said in a note.

Alrosa said production at the mine had been halted. Risks for Alrosa’s total output are limited because its other mines can increase production if needed, Nikolay Sosnovskiy, an analyst at Prosperity Capital Management, said.

He also said there was unlikely to be a shortage of gems because Alrosa’s production usually spikes in the third quarter due to seasonal output from alluvial operations.

Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Writing by Polina Devitt and Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg