PATNA: Ten miners were killed and a nearly 20 persons feared trapped when a massive mound of earth came crashing down on them at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) on Thursday night, the worst such disaster in over a decade.
The bodies of ten miners were recovered on Friday from under the debris at a coal mine that collapsed in Jharkhand’s Godda district. Rescue operations continue to save nearly 20 others believed to be trapped.
When workers and machinery were engaged in mining operations some 200 feet beneath the ground at the Pahadia Bhodaye site in Rajmahal Opencast Project of ECL, a subsidiary of Coal India Limited, a large heap of top ground caved in and blocked the entry point of the colliery, said officials.
The incident took place at about 8 p.m. on Thursday. Although the cause of the mishap is yet to be confirmed, the Ministry of Coal described the mishap as “unprecedented” and said it prima facie appeared to have resulted from “a failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip”.
Four of the dead workers were from Bihar, three from Jharkhand and one each from Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Jharkhand CM Raghubar Das announced exgratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the victims while ECL announced an exgratia of Rs 5 lakh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal expressed grief over the deaths.
“Rescue work is being carried out by NDRF personnel. We will take steps to ensure no recurrence of such mishaps,” said Jharkhand chief secretary Rajvala Verma after visiting the mishap site on Friday. While the Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) has been asked to probe the causes of the mishap, local people and Opposition political parties accused ECL and the executing agency, Mahalaxmi Company, of compromising safety standards to save costs.
ECL said the mishap took place as the workers were forced to continue mining operation even after their team leader had warned about the likelihood of collapse due to continued extraction of coal at the 12-year-old colliery.