One miner was killed and eight more have been injured in an explosion in the Tkibuli coal mine in central Georgia.
The cause of the explosion in the Mindeli mine shaft, at around 23:00 on Sunday, is still not known.
The injured have been transported to Tbilisi, where three remain in serious condition in intensive care. Doctors say that one of those injured is in critical condition.
Guga Kashibadze, head of the burns centre at the Khechinashvili University Clinic, told reporters that the surviving miners had fractures and other injuries as well as burns.
Mining company Saknakhshiri told Formula that they were investigating the cause of the incident. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has launched an investigation for a possible violation of safety standards.
The Labor Inspection Office has also started an investigation. On Monday, they released preliminary findings suggesting at least two violations, including drilling and blasting when methane levels in the air exceeded the allowable concentration. They also reported that blasting was carried out without the direct supervision of a technical supervisor.
Deaths in Georgia’s mining sector are a common occurrence, with miners regularly going on strike to demand a safer working environment. A 2019 report by Human Rights Watch blamed deregulation of the mining sector for the number of accidents, urging the government to adopt international standards.