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Asia

Survivors found in Pakistan coal mine blast

Nine miners have been found alive after a coal mine accident in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan. Their rescue comes as a surprise, since officials had already determined the final death toll on Monday.

Family members of stranded miners wait outside a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan

Family members of stranded miners wait outside a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan

Nine miners who were trapped for two days in a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan have been rescued. Senior mining official Iftikhar Ahmed said all nine men have been found buried beneath sand and wooden supports. Although found unconscious, they had not been seriously unjured. The mine collapsed after a series of methane gas explosions. The coal mine had been declared dangerous two weeks ago, but the warning was ignored by the contractor working it.

Rescue workers were surprised to find the men. On Monday, authorities had confirmed that all miners had died. According to provincial chief inspector of mines, Iftikhar Ahmed, there had been no survivors and the mine had been in the process of being sealed. The final toll had also been confirmed by Bakht Nawab, president of Pakistan Mines Workers Federation.

Death toll unclear

More than 50 miners were in the mine when three big explosions occured. 43 bodies have been recovered so far, says Iftikhar Ahmed. The explosions had been triggered by methane gas which accumulated in the caverns due to poor ventilation.

Such explosions are not uncommon in coal mines in Pakistan. Most mines are located in Singh and Baluchistan, the troubled southwesten province plagued by an insurgency blamed on nationalist tribesmen.

Baluchistan is rich in mineral resources including coal, copper, gold, oil and gas. Poor extraction techniques and a lack of safety measures in the impoverished province have led to accidents in the past.

Author: Ziphora Robina (dpae/afpe/rtre/ape)
Editor: Sarah Berning