At least eight miners died in a coalmine in Kohat district's Akhurwal village on Wednesday morning, in an incident that left at least three others injured, according to local and foreign media reports.
The mine's owner claimed the miners died after inhaling poisonous gas but a member of the local administration said there was an explosion in the mine that may have caused its roof to collapse.
Malik Haji Khista Hussain, the owner of the mine, told DawnNewsTV that there had been 12 miners working in three groups in the mine at around 7:30am. He said that "eight or nine" died after inhaling poisonous gas before they could be rescued, whereas the four remaining affected miners were hospitalised.
Officials from the assistant commissioner's office told reporters that arrangements are being made to transport the four affectees ─ one of whom is in critical condition ─ from Darra Adam Khel District Headquarters Hospital to Peshawar where there are better facilities for treatment.
However, a senior member of the local administration, Khalid Ilyas told the Associated Press that at least nine miners had died in an explosion in the coalmine. He added that three miners were injured in the blast, and that a rescue operation had been launched shortly after the blast, with officers investigating the incident.
In a separate AFP report, the casualties were incurred when the roof of a coalmine collapsed. An administration official identified as Shahid Ilyas said that two seriously wounded workers had been pulled out of the mine along with the bodies of nine miners.
A senior local police official, Muhammad Ejaz, confirmed the incident and said they were investigating it.
Poor working conditions inside coal mines in the country claim the lives of miners on a regular basis but often go unreported.
Coal mining is considered much more hazardous than hard rock mining due to flat-lying rock strata, generally incompetent rock, leakage or explosion of poisonous gases and coal dust, collapsing of mine stopes or general mechanical errors from improper use and malfunctioning of mining equipment.
According to the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation, between 100 and 200 labourers die on average in coal mine accidents every year.