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50 miners feared dead
Blast triggers gas leak, fire in Dhanbad

Dhanbad, September 7
At least 43 of the 50 miners trapped in a coalmine here have died due to inhalation of carbon monoxide following an explosion underground and the authorities virtually ruled out the survival of the remaining.

“Rescue teams have located 43 bodies from the Bhatdih mines of which 34 have been brought to the upper level,” the Dhanbad Deputy Commissioner Bela Rajesh said, adding efforts were on to trace the remaining bodies.

Fearing the worst, Coal Minister Shibu Soren, who visited the accident site, announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the families of the deceased workers and a job to their kin.

Bharat Coking Coal (BCCL) Chairman and Managing Director Partha S. Bhattacharya had earlier said “the possibility of the survival of the miners is bleak.

Twenty rescue teams from BCCL and other Coal India subsidiaries, Eastern Coalfields and Central Coalfields, were engaged in rescue operations and were drilling holes to let in fresh air into the mine which collapsed yesterday trapping the miners at Bhartdih mine. Four of them managed to come out.

Soren said rescue teams were close to the site of accident at the gassy mine under Nagda colliery of BCCL.

“The miners were working at a depth of 460 metres (1,510 feet) when the explosion and the gas leak reduced the oxygen level to almost zero,” Bhattacharya said.

Although rescue operations were launched overnight, officials said they had given up on finding any survivors as rescue teams had only been able to get past level six or seven of the 18-level mine. The 50 miners were believed to be trapped in the last level.

Thousands of locals, including families of the 50 men, crowded outside the mines and shouted slogans criticizing the state government.

Rescuers said a fire in the mine, triggered by the blast, had made their task tougher. “We can’t breathe at all,” one rescuer said. “And there are no maps of these mines, so finding our way through is also difficult.” — PTI, Reuters



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