27 January, 2011

A strong blast hit Georgia’s Tkibuli Mine at 1:00 a.m. on 22 January; it claimed the life of Merab Kalandadze, 37, and injured other 4 miners.
The injured miners with different degrees of burns and injuries were immediately transferred to a resuscitation unit of Tbilisi hospital.
According to Georgia’s Trade Union (GTR), the 22 January mine explosion in Tkibuli was to be expected and the mine-owner company officials were aware of the threat. GTU Head Irakli Petriashvili said that the

miners knew that the methanol level in the third section of Mindeli Mine totaled 6% (while standard norm is 2%); thus, not only explosive works but even staying in the mine should have been banned.
As we found out there had been a similar command by the supervisors a couple of days before the accident. The miners hadn’t followed the instructions then and it resulted in a clash between the sides. Later, the Brigade N.3 was threatened with sacking in case they would not follow the command. So, they went into the pit.
Petriashvili says that GTU has always called for the security measure provisions for the working conditions of miners. However, the Mindeli Mine owner company ‘Georgia’s Industrial Group’ (GIG) has never taken the claim into account. Moreover, the GTU demands that they should be involved in the investigation process and that GIG should stop putting the blame on the miners.
According to GTU data, 9 have been killed and scores injured in Tkibuli mines during the last 9 months.
Two blasts in the same mine in 2010 killed 4 men on 3 March and another 4 - on 27 August. It is worth of mentioning that family members of the people, who were killed, declared that the reason of blast was lack of necessary equipment including methanol meters.
President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili, who was paying a visit to Armenia, expressed his deep condolences to the family members of the dead miner and said that everybody responsible for the mine disaster in Tkibuli, should be punished.
Saakashvili does not trust the preliminary report, according to which the accident was caused by the perished miner’s negligence.
‘I remember that miners were blamed for the previous explosions too. However, investigation discovered that the administration of the mine was to be blamed for the disaster. I regret the criminal case did not come to the logical end. Responsible people should have been punished then’, Saakashvili said and added that the full investigation of previous explosions might have prevented the next blast.
‘People, who do it, are involved in a murder. Those, who cover it, are accomplices. Participants and accomplices of the murder should be punished severely’, Saakashvili said.
Healthcare Minister Andria Urushadze visited the miners and said that the insurance company would pay all treatment expenses, as all of them were insured.
On 26 January the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Interior Affairs arrested two persons responsible for the explosion.
The representative of the Prosecutor’s Office Zaza Kachibaia reported the details of detention. He said the head of the shift Edem Sturua and his assistant Giorgi Devdariani, were the chiefs of the miners who worked in the mine that day and they ordered to carry out explosive works, neglecting the security norms.
The investigation was launched under the 2nd part of Paragraph 240 of Criminal Code. The detainees may face 3-5 year imprisonment.
Presumably the final report on the 22 January blast in Tkibuli mine will be published by the end of week. According to Zaza Gordeziani, technical director of ‘Georgian Industrial Group’, he cannot make any comment until the end of the investigation.


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