The death toll from Saturday's mine collapses near Quetta rose to 23 on Sunday as five more bodies were recovered from a coal mine in the Sur-range area, Levies sources told DawnNewsTV.

A Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation-owned mine in the Sur-range coal mine field, some 60 kilometres east of Quetta, was hit by a mudslide. According to the Levies, there were seven workers inside the mine when the incident took place.

By Saturday night, two workers were confirmed dead, whereas five others were believed to be injured. A rescue operation to recover the workers concluded today, with all seven workers in the Sur-range mine confirmed dead.

In a separate incident a gas explosion and mudslide struck coal mines in the Marwar area, killing 16 workers. The blast occurred because of accumulation of methane gas in three branches linked to the main mine. The mines had collapsed, dumping rubble at the exit point and trapping the workers inside.

Among the 23 deceased, two workers were native to Balochistan, whereas the remaining 21 belonged to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Shangla district.

Of the 21, 15 were relatives and neighbours in the village of Zara, which is now preparing to bury the dead. A complete shutter down is being observed in Shangla's Alpuri tehsil as the town mourns the incident.

A total of 11 miners were injured in both incidents.

Graves ready

Relatives and heirs have prepared the graves and are waiting for the bodies of 22 coal miners, who belong to Shangla, to reach their ancestral village where they will be buried at the graveyard in Ghorband area on Monday.

According to local administration officials, the bodies are likely to reach late at night on Sunday or early in the morning on Monday.

Ghorband is a densely populated locality of Shangla district and most people reside in hilly areas and works as coal miners in the different parts of the country. There are no factories or other employment opportunities in the region so people are compelled to work in other parts of the country.

The Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PMCLF) held a demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club today demanding responsibility for the incident be fixed. They also demanded Rs2 million compensation to be paid to each victim's family, DawnNewsTV

Working in a coal mine in Pakistan is a dangerous job as regulations are seldom implemented, making mine explosion incidents common.

According to the PCMLF, between 100 and 200 labourers on average die in coalmine accidents every year. At least 11 miners died in two such incidents in mines in Darra Adam Khel and Jhelum last month.

A large number of casualties in these incidents are from Shangla district — which contributes a large number of workers to the mining industry in Pakistan.

Read: Footprints: A hope and a prayer

In 2015, seven miners were killed when a mine exploded in Balochistan's Dukki area. All of them were from Shangla.

A year later, eight were killed in an explosion in a coalmine in Doli area of the Orakzai Agency, five of whom were from Shangla. Their families were given Rs50,000 cheques in the opening ceremony of an orphanage in Shangla a few days later.


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