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India mine collapse toll expected to rise

December 31, 2016

At least 14 coal miners were killed in eastern India after a cave-in. Angry relatives have demanded a response from the companies which operate the mine.

Indien Elf Tote nach Unglück in indischer Kohlegrube
Image: Getty Images/AFP/Str

Rescue workers continued to pull bodies out of the wreckage of a fatal mine collapse in the Indian state of Jharkhand on Saturday. Although accounts of the exact death toll varied, Indian media reported that at least 14 miners were killed and dozens more forced to flee for their lives after a cave fell in around them.

As seven men were still unaccounted for on Saturday, authorities told the press they expected the death toll to rise.

The collapse at the coal mine in Jharkhand's Godda district occurred unexpectedly on Thursday night. Because of intense smog, recovery teams were not able to access the site until Friday morning. According to the "Hindustan Times," family members unhappy with the slow pace of the rescue work gathered together on Saturday. They demanded that officials from coal mine operators Eastern Coalfields and Mahalaxmi Engineering speak to them directly, and accused the firms of trying to withhold the bodies so that they would not have to compensate relatives.

Authorities have not yet been able to determine what caused the collapse, but have announced an investigation into the incident.

India usually enjoys a relatively high safety record in the mining industry, especially compared to neighboring China, which reports about 1,000 deaths a year. In 2015, about 38 workers were killed across India's 570 mines.

es/se (AP, AFP)