Seven miners killed in explosion at coal mine in Pakistan

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Karachi, Mar 17 (PTI) At least seven Pakistani miners were killed after an explosion at a coal mine in the troubled Balochistan province, the second such incident in the province in a week.

The explosion took place on Monday night after the accumulation of methane gas in the mine in Torghar gas field in Hanai district, Balochistan Coal Mines Workers Federation president Sultan Muhammad Lala said.

“Rescue teams have recovered the bodies of the miners who died after a huge fire broke out underground in the coal mine,” Lala said.

The workers were at least 1,500 feet below when the explosion occurred late night. Last week, six miners were killed after an explosion in a coal mine in Marwar district of the province.

Lala said that despite reminders, the government and owners of the coal mines had done nothing to improve safety and other conditions for the workers.

“As a result of this 102 coal miners have been killed in 72 different incidents in Balochistan,” he added.

Last August, seven workers lost their lives in a methane gas explosion near Quetta while in 2011, 45 coal miners were killed in an another gas explosion.

Lala said that apart from explosions, workers also face problems of being kidnapped for ransom and even death if the coal mine owners did not pay extortion money to militant and separatist groups operating in the province.

According to figures by the Balochistan Minerals Department, there are a total of 2,800 coal mines in the province which employ around 70,000 workers.

Thousands of workers, many of them refugees or economic migrants from neighbouring Afghanistan and other parts of Pakistan left work and fled the province following the brutal killing of 10 Hazara coal mine workers by insurgents in the remote Mach area in January this year.

Since February around 150 coal mines have closed down or are not functioning to full capacity due to the fear among workers. PTI CORR PMS PMS