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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian diamond producer Alrosa said on Saturday it had called off the search for eight miners who went missing three weeks ago when an underground mine flooded.
The state-run company's Mir mine in the remote Yakutia region of eastern Siberia flooded on Aug. 4 when water seeped in from an open-cast mine above it. Another 134 miners were brought to the surface safely.
"It is with a heavy heart that I have to say that there is no hope of rescuing alive the workers who had been left in the mine," said Sergey Ivanov, president of Alrosa, the world's largest producer of rough diamonds in carat terms.
"We are deeply shaken with what had happened," he added.
Production at the mine, which accounts for about 9 percent of Alrosa's annual diamond output, has been halted since the incident due to the persistent risk of flooding.
Together with Anglo American's De Beers unit, Alrosa produces about half the world's rough diamonds. Soviet geologists discovered the first diamond deposits at the Yakutia site in the 1950s.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Helen Popper)