Ranchi/New Delhi, Dec 30 (IANS) At least 10 miners were killed and several others feared trapped after a cave-in in a coal mine in Jharkhand’s Godda district, officials said on Friday.
The tragedy occurred at the Rajmahal Opencast Project of Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) around 7.30 p.m. on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das among others have condoled the deaths of the miners.
“So far 10 bodies have been recovered while two persons have been hospitalised with injuries. Rescue and search operations are still continuing. More other workers might still be trapped,” said ECL General Manager (Mining) R.R. Amitabh.
Jharkhand Director General of Police D.K. Pandey said over 20 workers were feared to be trapped inside the collapsed mine.
The ECL has ordered a probe and announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those killed, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
Rescue operations are being carried out by the National Disaster Response Force with assistance from the ECL, the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL), the state government and other experts.
In a statement, the Coal Ministry said that senior Officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) are at the site and have commenced the enquiry in to the incident.
“Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL) has deployed magnetometers along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters,” it said.
Modi spoke to Das on Friday for an update on the situation and said that the Jharkhand government and Union Power and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal were working to restore normalcy.
The Coal Ministry also termed the incident “unprecedented”, noting it had seem an area of 300 metres length by 110 metres width solid floor of the overburden dump area slide down by about 35 metres involving around 9.5 million cubic metres of earth material.
“This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip,” it said.
Besides the probe by the Director General of Mines Safety, a ‘high level committee of experts’ has been constituted by Coal India Limited (CIL) to investigate the causes of the accident.
The Raghubar Das government has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 25,000 for the injured.
Meanwhile, Goyal, calling the incident “tragic”, told media persons in New Delhi that the government hase already announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of those who died, keeping the dead miners, who were contractual workers, at par with CIL employees.