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Two separate coal mine incidents kill 13 people in Pakistan

16 March 2021

An explosion at a coal mine near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border killed six miners on March 11. This was followed by a second incident in the same region on March 15 where five miners and two rescuers died of suffocation following a methane gas fire.

A mine entrance in Pakistan - Representative image: Shutterstock
A mine entrance in Pakistan - Representative image: Shutterstock

The incident on March 11 happened at the Marwar coal field in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province. The region’s Directorate of Mines told Reuters news agency that accumulating methane gas exploded, trapping eight miners 1,000 feet underground.

A rescue team retrieved the bodies of six miners while two other miners escaped with minor injuries. The mine has been closed indefinitely and the Chief Inspector of Mines has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.

Less than a week later, a second coal mine incident occurred in Balochistan on March 15. Al Jazeera reports that five miners and two rescuers died of suffocation after a methane gas fire at a mine in the district of Harnai, west of Quetta.

A government official told reporters that miners had entered the mine to fill in cracks caused by the methane gas fire when they died of asphyxia. The men were working around 1,400 feet underground. Two rescuers also died of asphyxia while attempting to locate the five miners. The seven bodies were recovered after rescuers worked through the night to make the mine safe.

According to government officials, a lack of safety training was to blame for the incident after the miners are believed to have forgotten to open ventilation within the mine. Pakistan Government figures show that around 100 coal miners have died in Balochistan over the last year in 72 incidents.

In March 2020, seven miners were killed and three were injured after an explosion at a coal mine 60 miles (100 kilometres) outside of Quetta. The blast was likely caused by a build-up of methane gas.

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