A fire accident at the Kostenco coal mine in the Karaganda region, Kazakhstan, has killed 45 people, including one remaining miner believed to be underground.

The Kostenco mine is operated by ArcelorMittal Temirtau, a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based steelmaker ArcelorMittal in Kazakhstan.

The fire accident, which is said to be the country’s worst mining disaster in more than a decade, occurred on 28 October, possibly due to a methane blast.

Earlier, ArcelorMittal announced that 206 of 252 people were safely evacuated from the site.

Emergency teams were deployed to find the last miner, who is believed to have been underground, according to Kazakhstan’s Ministry for Emergency Situations.

ArcelorMittal, in its statement, said: “No words can adequately convey the devastation the company feels following this accident. Everything that can be done to support the families who have lost loved ones through this deeply painful time will be done.”

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev expressed condolences to the victims’ families and ordered to halt the investment support to ArcelorMittal Temirtau.

ArcelorMittal operates iron ore and coal mines, along with a steel plant in Kazakhstan.

The company has been in talks with the Kazakhstan government for several months, over the future of its subsidiary, ArcelorMittal Temirtau.

It has recently signed a preliminary agreement to transfer ownership of ArcelorMittal Temirtau to the state, after several accidents in recent years, including the fire at Kostenco coal mine.

ArcelorMittal added: “As communicated earlier today by the government of Kazakhstan, the two parties have been in discussions concerning the future of ArcelorMittal Temirtau and recently signed a preliminary agreement for a transaction that will transfer ownership to the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“ArcelorMittal is committed to completing this transaction as soon as possible in order to minimise disruption to the greatest extent possible.

“Both parties are very much focused on an outcome that is in the best interests of the people who work at the steel plant and iron-ore and coal mines, as well as the communities the operations support.”