At least 23 people have been killed after gas explosions in two coal mines in southwestern Pakistan. The tragedy occurred in the Marwar coalfields east of Quetta, in the oil and gas-rich Baluchistan province.
Officials said Sunday the death toll from twin explosions in neighboring mines near Quetta had reached 23. At least 11 people were wounded.
The blasts, triggered by a buildup of methane gas, caused a tunnel collapse at the first mine in the Marwar coalfields just before midday on Saturday.
Local government official Jawaid Shahwani told AFP that 16 miners were killed, while nine others were taken to hospital.
Three hours later, a similar explosion ripped through a mine about 25 kilometres (16 miles) away, killing seven people and wounding two others. Authorities said the incidents were not linked, and that rescue operations had ended at both sites.
Read more: Restive Baluchistan, Quetta attacks
Huge reserves, poor safety
Coal extracted from the Margwhat deposits, part of Pakistan's massive reserves lying in Baluchistan on the border with Iran and Afghanistan, is mostly used in brick-making kilns.
Pakistan's Mineral Development Corporation leases many of them to private contractors.
Safety measures are basic and laborers are often drawn from other parts of Pakistan, according to Reuters.
Resources fairly allocated?
Complaints have long prevailed in Baluchistan that the region's population of 7 million does not get a fair share of the earnings.
In 2011, collapses at a Baluchistan coal mine triggered by explosions killed at least 43 workers.
nm,ipj/bw (AFP, Reuters)