KIEV : Nine miners were killed after a gas explosion ripped through an underground coal mine in eastern Ukraine, authorities said on Friday.

The blast happened before dawn on Thursday at a depth of 300 metres (1,000 feet), located in the eastern city of Kirovsk, the State Emergency Service said in a statement.

Accidents are a regular feature at Ukrainian mines, most of which are located in the country’s industrial eastern region, where pro-Russian rebels now control over a dozen towns and cities.

Many of them are underfunded and poorly equipped, and safety violations are rife.

In the worst accident of its kind in the country’s post-Soviet history, more than 100 miners were killed in an explosion in 2007 at the Zasyadko mine, one of the three biggest in Ukraine.