MAC: Mines and Communities

Massive explosion kills 52 mineworkers in Balochistan

Published by MAC on 2011-03-28
Source: Associated Press (2011-03-21)

A massive methane gas explosion, on 20 March at a coal mine in Pakstan's Balochistan province, is believed to have taken the lives of 52 mineworkers who were underground at the time.

It is one of the worst such events anywhere in recent years - notwithstanding China's unenviable record on coal mine fatalities.

The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) has accused the central government of "criminal negligence", pointing out that rescuers took nearly six hours even to reach victims at the state-owned enterprise.

Note: A year ago, the Balochistan government cancelled its license for the Reko Diq copper project, a joint venture between Barrick Gold and Antofagasta plc. It announced the move as "a step towards getting control over provincial resources in accordance with the wishes of the people". See: Balochistan halts $3.5bn copper project

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Pakistan mine gas explosion 'kills 52'

Inspector says there is '0% chance' of survivors after blast in Sorange mine, Baluchistan province

Associated Press

21 March 2011

Rescuers used shovels and bare hands to dig out miners buried after a gas explosion in a coal mine in south-western Pakistan. Fifty-two were feared dead but only 27 bodies have been recovered since the explosion on Sunday.

"We have yet to dig out and search the remaining two wings, but there is 0% chance we can get anybody alive," said Iftikhar Ahmed, a government mine inspector.

Ahmed said the mine, owned by the state-run Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, was declared dangerous two weeks ago because of methane gas, but the warning was ignored by the contractor.


PILER concerned over coal mine blast

Daily Times

22 March 2011

KARACHI: Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) has expressed concerns over loss of precious human lives due to methane gas explosion in a Sorang coal mine in Balochistan, consequently killing 45 workers out of the total 52.

Residents And Rescue Workers Gather At The Entrance Of A Coal Mine In Quetta
Residents and Rescue Workers Gather at the Entrance of a Coal
Mine in Quetta. Source: Reuters

In a statement issued on Monday, PILER Executive Director Karamat Ali expressed serious concerns over the absence of an effective occupational health and safety policy in the country, which has resulted in the deaths of a large number of workers in industries, particularly in coal mines. The Sorang coal mine is owned by the state-run Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation and had been given on lease to a private contractor.

Ali demanded the government to provide adequate and immediate compensation to the families of the Sorang coal mine victims. He pointed out that the death toll kept increasing due to the non-availability of rescue machinery with the concerned rescue departments. Local workers and volunteers had already recovered seven bodies from the debris before the government rescue teams reached the spot.

According to reports, the explosion in the coalmine occurred at 1:30am, while the rescue operation was launched at 7:00am, several hours after the incident. "Because of the delay, all the miners may have lost their lives and there was little chance left of survival of others," the reports said. Located about 35 km away from the provincial capital, Quetta, the mine had been already declared "dangerous two weeks ago because of an excessive accumulation of methane gas", say sources.

This shows criminal negligence on part of the concerned government departments that allowed work in the mine ignoring the danger warnings.

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