The failure of a mine rescue mission on Sunday in northern Russia left six rescue workers and 26 miners dead. The miners had been trapped underground by a cave-in caused by methane explosions and fires.

Russian officials yesterday declared the rescue operation over and the missing miners dead.

High temperatures and no oxygen

“The circumstances in the affected part of the mine did not allow anyone to survive,” said Vladimir Puchkov, the minister of emergency situations. “In the underground space where the 26 miners were, there were high temperatures and no oxygen.”

The incident occurred north of Moscow, in the Arctic coal town of Vorkuta. It began on Thursday with two methane gas explosions approximately 2,560 feet underground in the Severny mine. A methane explosion is also what killed the rescuers on Sunday.

Four miners’ bodies had already been recovered, which brings the total death toll to 36.

A gas detector deliberately disabled

The Russian mining industry is notorious for poor safety conditions. After a 2007 methane blast in a Siberian mine that claimed the lives of 108 workers, authorities found that safety inspectors for allowing the site to operate even though a methane gas detector had been deliberately disabled to avoid the expense of halting work during gas buildups.