Several cabins at the mine flooded when a dam burst, leaving at least 15 people dead and about a dozen missing. Weak safety rules and Soviet-era infrastructure are being blamed for the tragedy.
Russian emergency officials on Saturday said at least 15 people were killed after a dam at a Siberian gold mine collapsed and water flooded several workers' dormitories.
According to media reports, at least 13 others were still unaccounted for hours after the tragedy south of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, about 3,400 kilometers (2,100 miles) east of Moscow.
Fourteen people were hospitalized, and three of them were in a grave condition, the regional Health Ministry said.
Search teams pulled from other regions
The collapse, during heavy rain, occurred early on Saturday, prompting a search operation involving around 270 people, many called in from other regions.
Officials said about 80 workers lived in the temporary dormitories out of about 180 staff on site.
However, local officials were quick to condemn the construction quality of the dam, with one of them claiming that authorities were not aware of its existence.
The structure was built in violation of "every single norm," the head of the local government, Yury Lapshin, told Russian TV.
Criminal probe opened
A criminal investigation has been opened by Russia's Investigative Committee.
Russia is one of the world's top gold producers with most of its output coming from large professional industrial mines.
However, alluvial production, which is usually operated by small firms, still contributes some of the country's gold.
Russia's Interfax news agency said the miners were part of Siberian privately-held Sibzoloto, which unites several artisanal mining teams.
Lax safety rules, mismanagement and Soviet-era infrastructure have made deadly accidents at Russian mines more common.
In 2009, 75 people were killed in a massive flood at the country's biggest hydroelectric plant in the Khakassia region of Siberia.
mm/tj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)