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Quetta: Men at a hospital on Tuesday comfort a relative of a worker following his death in a coal mine accident.—AFP
Quetta: Men at a hospital on Tuesday comfort a relative of a worker following his death in a coal mine accident.—AFP

QUETTA: Bodies of nine miners and a survivor, who were trapped in a coal mine for nearly two days, were retrieved by rescue authorities on Tuesday.

A short circuit sparked a blaze in Balochistan’s Degari field on Sunday. Eleven miners were working around 1,200 metres underground at the time. One was quickly saved, but poisonous carbon monoxide gas hampered rescue efforts.

Mines and mineral secretary Zahid Saleem has ordered an inquiry into the tragic incident. The mine was also closed till further order.

Officials said that all victims were Afghan nationals.

Rescue teams rushed to the site after receiving information about the incident and started a rescue operation for the recovery of trapped mine workers. However, rescue workers failed to recover all miners till late Monday night.

The rescue teams and mining engineers on Tuesday succeeded in reducing the presence of methane gas inside the mine and in the first phase they recovered four bodies and an injured mine worker from the mine. The injured was immediately shifted to Civil Hospital in Quetta.

Later, they recovered five more victims — four bodies and an injured mine worker. The bodies and injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital.

However, one of the injured miners succumbed to his wounds in the hospital. The condition of another injured miner is stated to be serious.

“Rescue operation has been completed after recovering all workers,” said the mines and mineral secretary, adding that the operation had ended and the mine had been closed and an inquiry was ordered.

Hospital sources identified the coal miners who lost their lives as Bashir Ahmed, Akbar Khan, Mohammad Hanif, Siayal Gul, Ziarat Gul, Hazrat Gul and Mohammad Sharif.

The bodies were handed over to the relatives, who will take them to Afghanistan for burial.

Following the tragedy, mine workers staged a protest and demanded arrest of the people responsible for not making safety arrangements in the mines that caused human loss. The provincial Disas­ter Manage­ment Autho­ri­ty director general and mines secretary held talks with the protesters and assured them that the people responsible would not be spared.

Balochistan Chief Minis­ter Jam Kamal Khan Alyani has expressed grief and sorrow over the tragedy. He ordered an immediate inquiry into the incident and announced compensation for the families of deceased coal miners.

According to the chief minister’s secretariat, Mr Aylani has ordered the mines department to submit a detailed report on the incident within three days. He also ordered the departments concerned to make necessary arrangements at coal mines to ensure safety of the miners.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2019