x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Five miners killed, 43 trapped in Pakistan

A total of 48 miners were working around 1,200 metres underground in the mine and officials say hopes for the survival of the missing were slim.

QUETTA, PAKISTAN // At least five miners were killed and 43 others trapped underground when explosions triggered a collapse in a coal mine in Pakistan's Baluchistan province on Sunday, officials said.

A total of 48 miners were working around 1,200 metres underground in the mine and the officials said hopes for the survival of the missing were slim.

The mine in the far-flung Sorange district of the insurgency-torn province was poorly ventilated and gas accumulated, followed by three blasts, they said.

"Rescue workers have recovered five dead bodies, 43 miners are still trapped inside," Imdad Lehri, a police official in Quetta, said.

Mohammad Iftikhar, the provincial chief inspector of mines, earlier said that three dead bodies had been retrieved and efforts to rescue those trapped inside were underway, but had been severely hampered by the choking gas.

"There are less chances of their (the miners) survival" he said.

"Miners died of suffocation, still a huge quantity of gas is causing difficulties in the rescue work."

He said the poisonous gas had forced officials to temporarily stop the rescue operation as some emergency workers had blacked out in the gas.

"The rescue operation has been halted for some time. Rescue workers were facing severe difficulties."

"Some of the rescue team members fell unconscious due to the huge presence of poisonous gas inside. Their colleagues managed to bring them to the surface," Mr Iftikhar said, adding that officials hope to resume the rescue within four hours.

Baluchistan's home secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani, confirmed the incident.

The coal mine is run by the state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Rich in mineral wealth, Baluchistan is plagued by an insurgency blamed on nationalist tribesmen demanding more jobs and royalties from the region's natural resources. Hundreds of people have died in the violence since 2004.

Most coal mines in the impoverished province are notorious for poor safety standards and facilities. Similar deadly accidents have occurred in the past.