'No survivors in Sorange mine collapse'

Published: March 21, 2011

Pakistani miners and their relatives gather at the entrance of a mine in Sorange district of the insurgency-torn province of Baluchistan on March 20, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

QUETTA: 

The death toll from a coal mine collapse in Sorange, Balochistan rose to 45 on Monday with officials announcing that there were no survivors.

According to Express 24/7 correspondent Mohammad Kazim, Balochistan provincial Minister for Irrigation and Power Sardar Aslam Bizenjo said that all 45 workers trapped in the Sorange mine had died.

Bizenjo made this announcement after visiting the mine site, reports Kazim.

Efforts are being made to recover all the bodies from the mine.

The mine in the far-flung Sorange district of the troubled southwestern province was poorly ventilated, allowing poisonous gases to accumulate and trigger blasts which led to the collapse on Sunday, officials said.

Rescue workers retrieved 10 bodies on Sunday. “They had severe burns, which means that the blasts also caused a fire,” Mohammad Iftikhar, provincial chief inspector of mines, told AFP overnight. He had earlier said the victims died of suffocation.

Balochistan’s home secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani had earlier said the missing workers were unlikely to receive enough oxygen to survive. Rescue work, which had to be briefly stopped on Sunday because some of the emergency crew were knocked unconscious by the noxious fumes, had resumed and military experts and engineers had been called in to help, Raisani said.

Updated from print edition (below)

19 dead as mine collapses

At least 19 miners were killed and more than 30 others were trapped and feared dead after a coalmine caved in due to explosions caused by accumulation of methane gas in Sorange, about 30 kilometres from Quetta in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The mine is owned by the government-owned Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC). Its management had been warned 15 days earlier by the government of the danger of an explosion due to an accumulation of methane gas and told to stop mining.

As many as 53 miners were working in depth of 4,000 meters in the coalmine when explosions took place causing a collapse. Rescue work was delayed because the equipment for emergency services was not available near the mine and had to be transported from Quetta.

However, the miners of nearby coalmines rushed to help their trapped colleagues and started rescue work on their own.

After several hours, they were able to retrieve nine dead bodies and rescue four miners alive. The rescued miners were deeply traumatised and not fully cogent when they came out.

“More than 30 miners are still trapped underground and efforts are underway to get them out. However, there are less hopes for their survival,” an official said.

Senior provincial government officials, including Urban Development Minister Ismail Gujar, rushed to the site and later the military also joined the rescue operation.

“Three explosions occurred in the coalmine which have resulted in collapse of the coalmine,” said Mohammad Sharif, a rescue worker.

As of the filing of this story, rescue work was still ongoing. Relief work has been slow due to a lack of experience on the part of the rescue workers, who are employees of the Metropolitan Corporation Quetta working without any specialised equipment.

“Most of the equipment are outdated and are no longer
in use or relevant,” said an official of mines department on the condition of anonymity.

There is also the danger of more explosions in the mine.

“There is still methane gas in the coalmine which hinders the rescue operation,” said one rescue worker.

Balochistan Mining Secretary Mushtaq Raisani said that an investigation will be launched into the
incident to determine who was responsible for the accident.

“Why did they not stop the mining despite the [government] warning? Whoever is found to have been negligent of their responsibilities will face criminal charges,” said Raisani.

According to sources at the Balochistan Mines and Mineral Department, PMDC had sublet the coalmine to a private contractor in violation of the Balochistan Mineral Rules 2002, which do not allow any firm to sublet any mine.

“There are several other coalmines that firms had sublet to private contractors. The mines inspectors do not take any action or ensure the safety and protection of the labourers,” said one mine department source.

There are more than 60,000 miners working in approximately 2,200 mines, most of which do not take adequate safety measures resulting in accidents like this one, according to mining department officials.

The president of the mines’ labour union, Bakht Nawab, said that they have been
demanding from the
government to provide labourers with safety equipment in order to protect their lives for the past three years but their efforts have been in vain.

“Miners are not even provided safety lights and gas detector,” said Nawab. “They are being treated like animals.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2011.

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Reader Comments (24)

  • LOL
    Mar 21, 2011 - 8:52AM

    Our thoughts are with the miners’ families. Recommend

  • Billoo Bhaya
    Mar 21, 2011 - 8:52AM

    Mine safety is a joke in Pakistan when miners are regular casualties. Where are those scientist and engineers trying to go on a joy ride to Japan to assist in their nuclear accident when they should be trying to extract all the miners alive as Chile did. Show us something Pakistan that you can do for your own people. Instead of this on-going Circus of Clowns. Recommend

  • Eeman
    Mar 21, 2011 - 10:09AM

    Initially I was amazed as to why on earth proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipments) have not been provided to the crew working in the tunnel, but after reading that the organization is government-owned, I take my surprise back. Recommend

  • omer
    Mar 21, 2011 - 12:23PM

    i dont find many comments by balochs on this issue ?
    where are the bugtis, marris and mengals in this time of disaster ? why call army ? why not let these traitors die down there ? or how about asking shahzain bugti to help these poor people with all his guns and ammunition.

    its pathetic actually. these balochs are always abusing army, but whenever they face any problem, be it flood, earthquake or an incident like this, they never appreciate the army.
    i never thought baloch were shameless people. but guess what, i was wrong!Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 12:37PM

    Mine workers leaders the death toll reached to 45.
    Two years ago, I did a detailed story on mine workers of Balochistan.
    http://afpakwatch.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/conditions-of-mine-workers-in-pakistan/Recommend

  • Amer
    Mar 21, 2011 - 1:03PM

    I am very sad at the death of these mine workers. May Allah bless them and give them a place in Jannah, they were poor people working in extremem conditions to make a living. The management who put the lives of these people at risk should be tried for their greed and negligence.
    300+ Pakistan Army jawans are helping in the rescue efforts, these include medical, engineering and technical teams from the Army as well. The politicians in the capital are silent, enjoying their lives of luxury, why are they not at the mine site? Why has no one announced any compensation for the families of those who died? Until and unless there are strict saftey standards the mining industry in Pakistan cannot fully develop. We always say with pride that we have huge deposits of coal in Thar but I am afraid if saftey standards are the same then we would have many more accidents like this one.Recommend

  • Anne
    Mar 21, 2011 - 1:29PM

    @omer: What kind of a stupid remark is this??? If the mindset of the majority of Pakistanis is like yours (hopefully not!), it’s clear why there is so much trouble in Pakistan nowadays. Shame on you for writing before thinking!Recommend

  • Danish
    Mar 21, 2011 - 2:13PM

    @anne: Omer is totally right. You should wake up and see the reality.Recommend

  • Faiza Hassan
    Mar 21, 2011 - 2:23PM

    @omer: I totally agreed with you….when they have so much of money & power that they can built their save heavens in caves then why dont they use their money & power to protect their people.? all these bughties & mengals have their own political interset like the Sahrif’s

    @Anne….i think my fellow you kind of misunderstood Omer’s comment here…alll he wants to refer is that they dont do any good to their people as they can.Recommend

  • omer
    Mar 21, 2011 - 2:25PM

    @Anne

    i do not feel ashamed at all. i would be last person to give a comment like this, but for a change try searching for what these “brave” baloch are doing to punjabis, teachers and doctors in the province.
    these baloch are always first to blame punjab and army for any ill they face, but never appreciate what army is doing for them.
    its there own attitude which is spreading hate and venom in the mind of other Pakistanis.
    now again i would like to ask, where is shahzain bugti ? where are other mengals and marris in this time of disaster ?Recommend

  • bunny
    Mar 21, 2011 - 2:42PM

    As a energy sector working person….I can feel little bit of their pain…..Hats of to them….they give up thier life for us to provide enough energy…..Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 2:45PM

    Same situation was their in Haiti few month back…Their govt imposed emergency. even their President was also involved in Rescue work. Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 3:50PM

    This is just another reason why when people get excited about how we have the technical expertise to run Saindak or Reko Deq or Thar Coal mines should consider that Pakistan has one of the worst safety records and harshest working conditions in these dilapidated mines. Can we have a safety regime please? Recommend

  • junaid
    Mar 21, 2011 - 4:14PM

    thats very very sad..Recommend

  • ba ha
    Mar 21, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Mine safety is a joke??? AND I WISH THESE WERE TEARS OF HAPPINESS!! Recommend

  • Anne
    Mar 21, 2011 - 7:10PM

    @omer:
    Anyway, omer, as this news story is originally about the accident in the Sorange mine, I was really wondering how you came to know that these miners were traitors (quote: why not let these traitors die down there?). Or is for you just being Baloch enough to be called a traitor? And just imagine if, for example, some Pashtuns or Sindhis or even Punjabis were among the victims? Traitors too, because they work in Balochistan, or worth saving??? In my country even thinking like that would be considered despicable.
    And by the way, there are more than three tribes living in Balochistan. You might not know, but I do!Recommend

  • Khan
    Mar 21, 2011 - 7:20PM

    Companies need to invest in mine safety in pak.. govt should make policies to protect miners.Recommend

  • Mar 21, 2011 - 7:59PM

    @Anne

    No. baloch are not traitors. i accept it was wrong when i said that. perhaps anger ? but than i would never feel ashamed at calling or considering someone a traitor, if he talks about breaking up my country!!!

    anyways. i am a Pakistani, and ofcourse i know how many tribes live in balochistan. but the three i named, there leaders are most vocal in criticising punjab and army. and many of their young are up against the state.

    and by the way in my place when a child is born he/she is told that they are Pakistani’s. unlike at some other places in my country (which is sad).
    ofcourse its a sad tragedy being faced by the poor people of balochistan. but than do you know how much these sardars mint from government of Pakistan ? billions! it would have been better if few thousand had been spend on the mine for safety purpose.Recommend

  • Dur Muhammed
    Mar 21, 2011 - 9:01PM

    Very sad news for me & my friends .
    Every one is responsible me , my friends & you too.—-
    Ministry of labour, Legislation, Labour law,Education/ training:Health &safety
    (workplace Hazard materials ) ,duties of employer,Labour Inspectors,Supervisors,
    representative of workers , social and political workers & LEADERS ????
    Dur Muhammed.Recommend

  • Tariq
    Mar 22, 2011 - 5:39AM

    All this mining company had to do was drill vertical holes to take out the methane which than could be sold a sui gas. What moronsRecommend

  • Proud Baloch
    Mar 22, 2011 - 7:54AM

    @ Omer & Others:
    I haven’t went through all the comments but your first one. This is reason why Baloch people are being against their own countrymen . We never called army or your agencies to provide us food and shelter in need we will rather prefer to die dear :).
    The victims in this incidents were Pashtuns but can you give me a point to praise army on this issue? did they save any of them ? was it worth praising?.
    I am not against Pakistan but sorry to say sometimes I feel I should be as whenever we asked for our rights we are labeled as traitors .
    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/pakistan-urged-investigate-murder-and-torture-baloch-activists-2010-10-26
    http://videos.sify.com/Rights-groups-concerned-about-missing-Baloch-people-ANI-watch-ldhs4jdjddi.html

    We are receiving tortured and dead bodies of Baloch youth on daily basis by Amry,ISI and MI which is highly discriminated and human rights violation against us.
    Calling Bugtis ,mengals to comment here doesn’t heal what we are suffering from .
    If you cannot do anything to save Balochistan do not be a reason to Break it. Pakistanis did the same with Bengalis ,you called them traitor as well ..Recommend

  • Bizenjo
    Mar 22, 2011 - 8:06AM

    @Omer On your last comment against Anne
    Not only these 3 tribes but unfortunately 75% Baloch are against this country and no wonder because of people like you.
    Give me a break do you still think Balochs should teach their children to a patriot of Pakistan ?And tell them what that beta v r richest province in natural resources but poorest province,
    Army is for safeguard of people but in Balochistan they are gifting us with Dead bodies but still you should praise them and be a proud Pakistani,
    There isn’t any primary education in our province but not a problem go to Punjab to acquire education and when they call you traitor but dun worry be a proud Pakistani.

    Huh Man you gotta be kidding. When we are late at home our families become worried whether ISI or army didn’t picked up their son .This is our reality
    Knowing nothing and commenting in anger doesn’t solve the problem dear :) .. Recommend

  • Bixenjo
    Mar 22, 2011 - 11:03AM

    @Omer
    I have replied you 2 long posts but for my dismay they didn’t uploaded ..Hell Frustrated:@.
    The people in this incident were Pashtuns but gimme a reason why army should be praised here? Did they save anyone ? does it worth praising?
    And We never demand any help from army we’d rather prefer death than any sort of help from Pakistani who calls us Traitor.
    Neither labeling traitor not blaming India or others heal the atrocities of past 65 years.
    I am not against Pakistan but I am afraid more than 70% Balochs are. And sometimes I too feel to be against because of the people like you.
    Army is for safeguard of citizens but in our region it is contrary ,we keep guns for our safety from army. We are getting tortured and dead bodies on daily basis
    http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2011/03/inside-story-baloch-political-prisoners.html
    http://videos.sify.com/Rights-groups-concerned-about-missing-Baloch-people-ANI-watch-ldhs4jdjddi.html
    *
    check out the links I have provided .. More than 100 dead bodies of Baloch youth recovered in 4 months. Still you want us to be a proud Pakistani ?
    *
    @Your last comment against Anne

    Give me a break man you still talk about being patriot you gotta be kidding.
    If you can’t find any solution do not be a reason to break Balochistan. You people labeled Bengalis as traitors .. do not try to repeat the history.
    there are still many Baloch who want to be a part of Pakistan do not be reason to change their mind .
    Hope this time it’ll be uploaded:@..Recommend

  • omer
    Mar 22, 2011 - 2:28PM

    @Proud Baloch: is Army and ISI behind killing of innocent punjabis in balochistan ? is Army and ISI behind killing of teachers and doctors in balochistan ? is Army and ISI behind killing of 11 innocent people in gwadar ? is Army and ISI behind daily explosins of gas pipelines and electricity pilons ?

    dont you think bit of soul searching is required ?

    and trust me no 1971 would happen again. it only happened because of the distance between two parts. balochistsn is Pakistan and would remain Pakistan. new nation states are out of fashion mate :)

    you say there are no schools or universities in balochistan, well whatever remains, your people dont even let them being run properly by killing teachers. so much for “i care for my people and want them to be educated” attitude.Recommend

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