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Malaysia mine blast kills four

27 November 2014

The death toll from an explosion in a Malaysian coal mine manned by foreign workers has risen to four, police said November 26. A North Korean, a Myanmar national, and two Indonesians are reported dead following the incident on November 22 in Selantik, in the interior of Malaysia's Sarawak state in Northern Borneo. The incident is thought to have been caused by an underground gas explosion and subsequent fire. 

Stock image
Stock image

Twenty of the 30 workers were injured (comprising eight North Koreans, six Myanmar, eight Indonesians, six Chinese and two Bangladeshis) are in critical condition, according to the Borneo Post.

Authorities have said the mine was operating legally and employed 119 workers, with 49 of them from impoverished North Korea. As many as 100,000 North Koreans are believed to be working abroad, with their remittances a valuable source of foreign currency for the isolated regime.

The mine also had Chinese, Myanmar, Indonesian, and Bangladeshi workers. Officials have claimed they were all legal workers and an investigation will take place into the causes of the incident.

Four miners from China lost their lives at the same mine 1n 2012.

According to AFP, Malaysia's treatment of foreign labourers is frequently criticised. A report released in September by US-based fair-labour organisation Verite said nearly one third of the 350,000 workers in Malaysia's electronics manufacturing sector -- many of them from impoverished neighbouring countries -- toil in conditions akin to "modern slavery."

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