At least 32 people have died in a mine fire in Kazakhstan, ArcelorMittal Temirtau, the local unit of the Luxembourg-based steelmaker which operates the mine, said on Saturday.
Of the 252 people at the Kostenko mine, 206 had been evacuated after what appeared to be a methane blast, with 18 seeking medical help, the company said in a statement. Some 21 people had not been located by 2 p.m. (0800 GMT).
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who expressed condolences to the victims' families and declared a national day of mourning on Oct. 29, ordered his cabinet to stop investment cooperation with ArcelorMittal Temirtau.
The government said in a statement that it was finalizing a deal to nationalize the company, which operates the country's biggest steel mill. ArcelorMittal confirmed that in its own statement.
"ArcelorMittal can also confirm, as communicated earlier today by the government of Kazakhstan, that 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," it said.
"ArcelorMittal is committed to completing this transaction as soon as possible in order to minimize disruption to the greatest extent possible."
Last month, First Deputy Prime Minister Roman Sklyar told reporters that Kazakhstan was in talks with potential investors who could take over the mill.
He said the cabinet was unhappy with ArcelorMittal's failure to meet its investment obligations, upgrade equipment and ensure worker safety after a series of deadly accidents.
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