Jharkhand mine collapse: 11 workers killed; over 50 feared trapped

Rescue operations still on, exact number of trapped miners yet to be ascertained

By Karnika Bahuguna
Published: Friday 30 December 2016

At least 11 workers died after an open-cast coal mine at Paharia Bhodaye in Jharkhand’s Godda district collapsed on Thursday night (December 29). The coal mne belongs to Eastern Coalfields Limited. Earlier, a company spokesperson had told Down To Earth that nine bodies were recovered and one person rescued. More than 50 others are feared trapped.
"Rescue operations are still going on. The exact number of people trapped inside is still not clear," R R Amitabh, in-charge control room, Eastern Coalfields Limited, said. 
An overburden dump slide occurred on Thursday around 7:30 pm, trapping miners and heavy machinery. The company has announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 500,000 each to the families of the deceased, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen's Compensation Act.  Calling the incident unprecedented, the company said an inquiry has been ordered. 
"Prima facie, the incident is unprecedented, since an area of 300-metre long and 110-metre wide solid floor of the overburden dump area has slid down by about 35 m involving around 9.5 million cubic meters of earth material. This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip," an official statement said.   
The Director General of Mines Safety has ordered an inquiry into the matter and a high level committee of experts has been constituted by the Coal India Limited to investigate into the causes of the accident.  
India has a poor record when it comes to mines safety. Though, statistically the number of mine fatalities have decreased over the years, the decline is not significant.
According to the Director General of Mines Safety, 43 fatalities occurred in the coal sector till July 31 2016  Last year, the number of fatal accidents at coal mines was 54. 

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