Karachi, Jul 16: Nine miners were killed and two others rescued nearly two days after an underground fire trapped them in a coalmine in Pakistan's resource-rich Balochistan province, officials said on Tuesday.
At least 11 miners were trapped on Sunday more than a kilometre underground after the fire started in the coalmine following an electrical short circuit. Rescue efforts were hampered by the fire spreading poisonous gas inside the mine near Balochistan's capital Quetta.
Rescue workers on Tuesday managed to recover two coal miners as well as the bodies of eight others who had been trapped in the coal mine. Another had been rescued on Monday.
One of the workers died in a hospital due to injuries, officials said.
Director General Provincial Disaster Management Authority Imran Khan Zarkoon told the media that eight bodies were recovered on Tuesday. He said that the search and rescue operation had concluded.
Officials said that poisonous gas accumulated in the mine due to which miners became unconscious.
Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Alyani has directed the Provincial Disaster Management Authority to deploy its technical team and ensure the safe recovery of the workers, provincial government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said.
The presence of poisonous gas inside the mine prevented easy access to the mine.
Poor working conditions inside coal mines in Balochistan claim the lives of miners on an almost daily basis in Harnai, Sowrange, Dukki, Mach and other parts of the province, but often go unreported, Dawn reported.
Coal mining is considered much more hazardous than hard rock mining due to flat-lying rock strata, generally incompetent rock, leakage or explosion of poisonous gases and coal dust, collapsing of mine stopes or general mechanical errors from improper use and malfunctioning of mining equipment, it added.
According to the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF), between 100 and 200 labourers die on an average in coal mine accidents every year in the country.
Last year in August at least 15 people were killed in the Sanjdi area of the province after a coal mine caved in.
Following a prolonged rescue operation, the bodies of 13 trapped miners and two volunteers were recovered by authorities.