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Sunday, March 20, 2011

7 killed, 45 trapped in Quetta coal mine blasts

QUETTA: At least seven coal miners were killed and about 45 others trapped following a series of blasts that occurred Sunday morning in a coal mine near Quetta.

Three blasts occurred when the gases accumulated due to poor ventilation in a mine in Surran range, some 35 km (22 miles) east of the provincial capital, Quetta.

There were an estimated 52 miners working at the different levels of the mine, which are 200 feet to 1,000 feet deep underground.

Rescue team was dispatched to the site quickly following the blasts. So far only seven dead bodies have been recovered from the mine despite the fact that nearly eight hours have passed since the disaster happened.

The death toll could further rise as some 45 other mine workers were still trapped inside the mine, said rescue workers.

The coal mine is run by the state-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Such explosions are not uncommon in coal mines in Pakistan, most of which are located in Balochistan and neighbouring Sindh province, where safety measures can be lax.

Pakistan has huge coal reserves estimated at more than 184 billion tonnes. It produces 4 million tonnes of coal annually, most of which is consumed by brick-making kilns.

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