Vatican City, Jul 20, 2004 / 22:00 pm
The Holy Father sent a telegram of condolences, through Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, to Bishop Stepan Meniok, C.SS.R., the archiepiscopal exarch of Donets'k-Kharkiv, Ukraine, upon the news of yesterday's mining disaster in Krasnolimansk in East Ukraine which killed 31 miners.
In the telegram, the Pope asks the exarch to convey his condolences to the authorities, family members and friends of those who died. "While he assures you of his fervent prayers for the repose of the souls of the deceased and for consolation for the wounded and all those who are suffering as a result of this serious accident, he sends you a special apostolic blessing as a sign of his spiritual closeness."
Only 12 miners of the 48 who were underground are known to have survived the explosion. By Wednesday hope was fading for five Ukrainian coal miners trapped for nearly two days after the underground explosion in which a methane blast ripped through the Krasnolimanska mine near Donetsk late on Monday.
This was the worst mining accident in the region in three years. Accidents are frequent in the region due to old equipment and operating procedures.