Six miners have been killed in a blast at a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, officials said on Friday.
They were among eight miners trapped about 1,000 feet underground when accumulating methane gas exploded at the coalfield in Marwar in the province of Balochistan, the officials said.
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“Six bodies have been retrieved by the rescue team from the affected mine this morning,” a senior official of the directorate of mines said.
“(The) mine has been closed and an inquiry has been ordered by the Chief Inspector of Mines into the incident.”
A heavy boulder had fallen on eight miners on Thursday afternoon, local rescue official Imdad Khan said.
Two injured workers were extracted from the mine after several hours of rescue operations.
In the past year, 102 coal miners have been killed in Balochistan in 72 different incidents, Sultan Muhammad Lala, president of the Balochistan Coal Mines Workers Federation, told Reuters.
Lala said the government and mine owners were not ensuring safe working conditions at the sites.
Mining is thought to be one of the most dangerous jobs in Pakistan due to low safety standards and bad working conditions.
An explosion caused by methane gas at another coal mine in Marwar in May 2018 killed 20 workers.
In August that year, another methane-fuelled explosion in the city of Quetta killed seven.
In 2011, 45 coal miners were killed by a methane gas explosion, also in Balochistan.
Sparsely populated and impoverished Balochistan is home to large deposits of coal, natural gas, copper and gold, many of which are being extracted by Chinese-backed operations.
Baloch separatist fighters often target workers and security forces.