July 31, 2011 / 2:28 PM / 8 years ago

Ukraine mourns after 37 die in mine accidents

A view shows the damaged Bazhanov coal mine in the town of Makeyevka in Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine July 29, 2011. REUTERS/Valeriy Bilokryl

KIEV, July 31 (Reuters) - Rescue work ended Sunday at two Ukrainian coal mines where accidents killed 37, and the former Soviet republic held a national day of mourning.

An explosion in a mine in the Luhansk region early Friday killed at least 26 people and injured two, according to an updated report on the Emergencies Ministry website.

Also early Friday, 11 miners died and four were injured at a state-owned mine in the neighboring Donetsk region when a piece of heavy machinery collapsed.

The Luhansk disaster was the deadliest in a Ukrainian coal mine since 2007, raising concern about the industry’s safety standards. The mine is owned by Ukraine’s richest man, steel tycoon Rinat Akhmetov.

Yanukovich ordered his government Friday to investigate the accidents and develop a program to ensure miners’ safety. He published a decree Saturday ordering state flags to fly at half mast Sunday.

The Emergencies Ministry said the causes of the disasters had not yet been established.

Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Andrew Roche

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