At least five coal miners and two rescuers died due to suffocation after a methane gas fire broke out in the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan. This is the second mine disaster in the region within a week.
The fire took place at a mine in the Tor Ghar area of Harnai district, about 170 km west of the provincial capital Quetta, late on Monday, reported Al Jazeera citing government official Sohail Anwer Hashmi.
“The coal miners entered inside the mine to fill the cracks caused by [the] fire, but they died of asphyxia caused by the deadly methane gas,” Hashmi said.
“The coal miners were working 1,400 ft deep inside the mine when the incident [was] reported,” he added.
The bodies were recovered after rescue operations through the night, he further informed.
Meanwhile, Shafqat Fayaz, chief inspector of the provincial mines department, also blamed the accident on a lack of training.
“The five coal miners entered in the mine but have forgotten to open the ventilation which filled the mine with methane gas,” he said.
This accident was the second coal mine disaster in Balochistan within days, after six miners were trapped and killed in a methane gas explosion in the Marwar coalfield last week, Al Jazeera reported.
Earlier this year, unidentified gunmen stormed a coal mine in Machh town near Quetta, pulling out ethnic Hazaras, members of Pakistan’s Shia minority community, from their homes and opening fire on them.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the deadly attack, protests erupted in the region with the kin of the victims refusing to bury the dead until the government meets their demands.
In 2020, at least 99 coal miners and labourers were killed in 72 incidents in Balochistan, Al Jazeera reported citing government data.
Despite Balochistan being rich in minerals and natural resources, it is Pakistan’s poorest province and regularly ranks at the bottom of the country’s socioeconomic indicators on healthcare, education, and population welfare.