May 24, 2008 in Nation/World

World in brief: 11 dead, missing in mine blast

The Spokesman-Review

Ukrainian officials say four coal miners are dead and seven missing after an explosion at a mine in the Donetsk region.

Maryna Nikitina, a spokeswoman for the industrial safety watchdog agency, said Friday that the explosion of methane gas and coal took place overnight about 2,800 feet underground.

About 400 miners were underground at the time and 14 were in the immediate area of the blast. Three miners walked out and are hospitalized.

Ukraine has some of the world’s most dangerous mines, due to outdated equipment and poor safety standards. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, nearly 4,300 miners have been killed in accidents. Officials say that for every 1 million tons of coal brought to the surface in Ukraine, three miners lose their lives.


Blair plane causes jets to scramble

Israeli fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unidentified aircraft suspected to be hostile this week, only to find that it carried none other than Tony Blair, a top military official said Friday.

Blair was on a private plane from the World Economic Forum summit in Sinai, Egypt, to an investment conference in the West Bank city of Bethlehem Wednesday when it penetrated Israeli airspace, the official said.

The plane failed to respond to repeated control tower radio calls demanding that it identify itself, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the media.

As is common practice in such a case, the Israeli air force sent two fighter jets to intercept the aircraft. They flew above the former British prime minister’s plane and quickly established contact. The pilot told them of the traveler on board, the official added.

When asked about the incident, the army spokesman’s office said “the air force does not comment on its operational activities.”

Blair’s plane apparently had a technical malfunction and could not hear the Israeli control tower’s calls.

From wire reports

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