ASTANA – The Kazakh government reported to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on its efforts to eliminate the consequences of the mine fire on Oct. 28 during the meeting of the operational headquarters in the Karagandy Region, reported Akorda press service.
The fire occurred in the Kostenko mine operated by the ArcelorMittal Temirtau (AMT) mining company, killing at least 33 people.
Minister of Emergency Situations Syrym Sharipkhanov reported that 55 rescuers and 12 units of equipment are involved in rescue efforts. All sources of fire have been extinguished, and rescue operation continues around the clock, according to the minister.
Tokayev instructed to continue the search and rescue operation.
“Now citizens ask to provide them information every 10-15 minutes. If possible, we need to ensure this. Provide one person who will communicate with people. You cannot isolate them and leave them without information. This is a very sensitive and absolutely unacceptable moment,” he told the minister.
Speaking at the meeting, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Health Azhar Giniyat said that medical assistance was arranged promptly. According to the Prime Minister’s press office, 20 people are now treated at the hospital.
“People with varying degrees of gas poisoning are being treated in the toxicology department. The entire medical staff was involved in providing the necessary medical care,” Giniyat said.
Kazakh Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population Svetlana Zhakupova said social benefits for the families of the victims would be provided from the national budget, social insurance and the life insurance company.
“The total monthly average amount of payments will be 400,000-500,000 tenge (US$ 840-1,050) until the dependents become 18. If the children are enrolled in higher education, then up to the age of 23. For the time being, all payments will be provided through AMT. The company is obliged to pay the risks of the annual payment in accordance with the collective agreement. AMT will cover all expenses related to burial. Children’s higher education should also be covered by AMT,” said Zhakupova.
Prime Minister Alikhan Smailov said the government had reached a preliminary agreement with the shareholders of the company and is finalizing the transfer of ownership deal in favor of Kazakhstan. He chairs a government commission aimed at investigating the causes of the accident.
President Tokayev once again instructed to undertake all measures to eliminate the aftermath of the accident and rescue the mine workers. He also reiterated the need to provide comprehensive assistance to the families of killed and injured miners.
“Your task now is to work directly with people, meet with them, and equip a task force. We need to work as a single fist to explain the situation and, most importantly, to make decisions. [You should] Make decisions on the ground,” said Tokayev, tasking the government commission to investigate the circumstances of the fire that caused the death of people and bring to justice all those responsible.
Oct. 29 will be the national mourning day in Kazakhstan, Tokayev announced earlier during his meeting with the families of the victims.