At least 18 miners have been confirmed dead by rescuers following a collapse of a mound at a Coal India mine in the Indian state of Jharkhand.
A reported 23 miners and a number of vehicles and equipment were trapped during the incident, which occurred when earth collapsed at the Lalmatia mine.
Owned by Coal India unit, Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL), the open-cast mine is operated by Mahalakshi Infracontract.
Rescue operations began immediately after the collapse, with dense fog causing disruptions to rescue operations, reported News18.com.
The rescue mission was performed by a 50-strong team from National Disaster Response Force and ECL.
ECL officiating CMD RR Mishra was quoted by News18.com as saying: “We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and it should not fall.”
A huge mound of earth crashed on miners during the incident on 29 December, with rescue efforts still continuing.
Indian Minister for Mines Piyush Goyal said that director-general of mines safety and Coal India have been ordered to start an inquiry, reported Livemint.com.
Operations also recovered dump trucks from the debris.
Jharkhand has significant mineral resources. It is known for iron ore, coal, copper ore, mica, bauxite and manganese. Huge deposits of coal and iron ore have been found that support industries in Dhanbad, Ranchi and Jamshedpur.
Image: Jharkhand has huge deposits of coal and iron ore. Photo courtesy of Flickr/ Wikipedia.