The death toll from a mine collapse in eastern India's Jharkhand state has risen to 11 with rescue workers still searching for more dead bodies under the rubble. 

A massive mound of earth caved in on Thursday night at the Lalmatia open cast mine, around 390km from the state capital Ranchi.

"The search operation at the site hasn't stopped. We can confirm 11 dead and fear that one or two more dead bodies may still be under the rubble," Jharkhand police spokesman RK Mallick told the AFP news agency after rescuers recovered another body on Saturday, raising the toll from 10.

"Fifteen or 16 miners had managed to escape the collapsed mine soon after the incident on Thursday with only minor injuries. The tough terrain of the region (remote forest) and dense fog has been a challenge to the rescue work," he added.

It is still unclear how many are still trapped under the debris after a part of the mine collapsed [AFP]

The rescue workers hope to complete their search operation by Saturday evening.

There was no immediate explanation for the collapse, but the government has launched an investigation into the incident.

Jharkhand is one of the richest mineral zones in India, accounting for around 29 percent of the country's coal deposits. However it is also one of India's poorest areas and the epicentre of a Maoist insurgency.

India has maintained a relatively safe record in mining-related accidents compared to neighbour China, which on average reports around 1,000 fatalities every year.

In 2015, India recorded 38 deaths across 570 mining sites.

The last major mining accident in India occurred in 1975, when 372 workers were killed following the flooding of Chasnala mine in Dhanbad, also in the state of Jharkhand.

 

Source: News agencies