Rescue teams continued on Tuesday to search for eight miners, a day after an explosion ripped through a coal mine in southwestern Siberia, killing at least 100 people, officials said.
Up to 200 workers were in the Ulyanovskaya mine in Kemerovo region when the methane blast occurred early Monday at a depth of about 270 meters (885 feet), emergency and regional officials said.
The death toll from the blast had risen to 102, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said, according to the state-run Interfax news agency; 75 people had been rescued earlier.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations said it sent a special investigative team to the disaster site.
Among the dead was a visiting British businessman, who was touring the mine at the time of the explosion, the state-run Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The mine is in the city of Novokuznetsk, about 3,000 kilometers (1,850 miles) east of Moscow. It is in a major Russian industrial region, with some of the world's largest deposits of coal.
Mine disasters in the area are common occurrences. In 2005, 21 miners were killed in one incident. In 2004, another incident killed 45 workers.
The huge mine is operated by Yuzhkuzbassugol, an affiliate of Russian coal and steel company Evraz Group SA, which acquired a 50 percent stake in the company in 2005.
Yuzhkuzbassugol spokesman Eduard Sivtsov told Russian television channel NTV that rescuers were checking a large section of the mine for survivors.
"Their work is complicated by a great number of obstructions," he said, according to AP.
President Vladimir Putin sent Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to travel to the area.
Some government officials have accused private companies of cutting corners on safety measures to save money.
Alexander Sergiev, chairman of the Independent Coal Miners' Union, said the Ulyanovskaya mine used new equipment, but he said accidents were always possible.
He said miners may have encountered methane while working and he called for new safety regulations to help prevent such accidents.
"It's necessary, in my view, to pass legislation forbidding underground coal mining without the required (ventilation) from the surface for methane," he told Ekho Moskvy radio, AP reported.
Sergiev also blamed quota systems that encourage miners to increase their output which could potentially lead to mistakes.
The families of the dead each will receive at least $25,000 in compensation, Kemerovo Gov. Aman Tuleyev was quoted by ITAR-Tass news agency as saying.