“32 bodies of dead miners of the Zasyadko mine have been found” by early morning, the emergency ministry of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic said in a statement, adding that the bodies were being raised to the surface.
Efforts were still continuing to find the one miner who was still unaccounted for.
The pro-Kiev administration of the Donetsk region said that by 7:00 am (0500GMT) 14 bodies have been pulled out of the shaft, and seven were already identified. It gave the same toll figure of 32 dead.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing so the figure may change,” it said.
The Zasyadko mine is located on the outskirts of rebel hub Donetsk and lies just a few kilometres from the frontline of the conflict between the pro-Russian separatists and Kiev’s forces.
International monitors have reported sporadic heavy fire in the area of the Donetsk airport nearby despite the EU-mediated ceasefire struck on February 12.
The explosion, believed to be caused by a buildup of methane gas, occurred shortly before 0400GMT Wednesday, when 230 miners were underground.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko late Wednesday decreed a nationwide day of mourning Thursday, ordering the Ukrainian flag to fly at half-mast and cancelling entertainment events.
Both Ukraine and Russia have offered to aid in the search for survivors but the separatist authorities claimed that they have enough people and equipment. -AFP