KABUL: Rescue teams in northern Afghanistan searched a collapsed mine for bodies yesterday after at least 28 miners were confirmed dead and officials said no more survivors were trapped underground.
The coal mine in a remote area of Samangan province caved in after a gas explosion on Saturday, and emergency workers had earlier reported that 12 miners remained alive inside the mine. “Today 24 bodies have been recovered and four that are still under the rubble have been pronounced dead,” Mohammad Sediq Azizi, Samangan’s provincial spokesman, said.
“People are now holding funeral ceremonies for those who died. Around 100 other workers were taken to hospital, but discharged after brief treatment.”
Azizi said the mine appeared to have collapsed after a massive gas explosion at the site in Ruyi Du Ab district. Mosadiqullah Muzafari, Samangan’s deputy security chief, said four rescue workers were badly injured during the emergency operation.
President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and ordered an investigation by the mines ministry. Conditions in Afghan coal mines can be dangerously primitive, with miners working with old equipment and little ventilation or safety gear.
The US conducted an aerial mining survey of Afghanistan in 2006 and found evidence of $1 trillion of minerals deposits in the country. There were strong results for copper and iron.
The government is counting on commercial mining as a future source of much-needed income, and a new mining law is due to be passed soon to regulate the industry and encourage investment. But the legislation is stuck in parliament after long delays and disputes between competing ministries.