Tragedy struck Kazakhstan as a mine fire at an ArcelorMittal-owned facility claimed the lives of 32 people, with over a dozen more still missing. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed his strong condemnation of the Luxembourg-listed steel and mining company, labeling it the “worst” company in the country’s history. The incident has led to a preliminary deal for the nationalization of the local operations of ArcelorMittal.
The fire at the mine, which is among the deadliest mining accidents in Kazakhstan’s post-Soviet history, has left the nation in mourning. This devastating incident occurred merely two months after another deadly blast at an ArcelorMittal-owned site resulted in the loss of five miners.
ArcelorMittal, led by businessman Lakshmi Mittal, has faced repeated accusations of failing to adhere to safety and environmental regulations in Kazakhstan, often resulting in tragic disasters.
In response to the recent mine fire, the emergency situations ministry announced that the bodies of 32 individuals have been recovered, while the search for 14 missing miners continues.
President Tokayev, during his visit to the Karaganda region to meet with the families of the victims, declared a day of national mourning in remembrance of the lives lost.
Expressing his frustration with ArcelorMittal’s track record, President Tokayev appointed Vadim Basin, the deputy governor of the Karaganda region and a former employee of ArcelorMittal, to lead the company. He emphasized the need for a change in management, stating, “The current management of the company cannot do anything.”
As of now, the cause of the mine accident remains unannounced, and President Tokayev has announced the formation of an investigative commission to determine the root causes.
This tragic incident marks the worst mining accident in Kazakhstan since 2006 when 41 miners lost their lives at an ArcelorMittal site. Additionally, it is the latest in a series of accidents involving the company, resulting in a total of 12 deaths over the past year.
ArcelorMittal has pledged compensation and stated its willingness to cooperate with authorities to address the aftermath of the incident.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to Kazakhstan, emphasizing the importance of saving those miners still underground.
The Kazakh government had previously threatened to ban ArcelorMittal from operating in the country after a worker’s death in December 2022, following a similar accident just a month earlier at another ArcelorMittal site in the region. The incidents have raised concerns about safety standards and the company’s operations in Kazakhstan.
As the nation mourns the loss of lives in this devastating mine fire, the call for stricter safety measures and greater accountability continues to grow.
Sources By Agencies