A fire at the Kostenko coal mine in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan has killed 45 people, reported the Guardian.

The incident took place on 28 October at the mine, which is operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau, the local unit of steelmaker ArcelorMittal.

It is believed there was a methane blast. At the time of the incident, 206 of 252 people at the mine were evacuated safely.

Kazakhstan’s emergency services said on social media: “As of 3pm (09:00 GMT), the bodies of 42 people were found. The search for four miners continues.”

Although the authorities recovered bodies of other three miners, a rescue operation is under way for the last missing miner.

ArcelorMittal also halted operation of coal unit mines for 24 hours to undertake gas protection checks, reported Reuters.

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Following the latest accident, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his cabinet to cease potential investment cooperation with the miner.

The incident at the Kostenko mine follows a series of incidents at ArcelorMittal-operated mines, which prompted the nationalisation of ArcelorMittal’s local affiliate.

In a press statement, ArcelorMittal said: “ArcelorMittal can also confirm, as communicated earlier today [28 October 2023] by the Government of Kazakhstan, that the two parties have been in discussions concerning the future of ArcelorMittal Temirtau and recently signed a preliminary agreement for a transaction that will transfer ownership to the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

ArcelorMittal said it plans to complete the transaction as soon as possible to reduce “disruption to the greatest extent possible”.