Nine miners were killed and some feared trapped in a cave-in at the Lalmatia Open Cast Coal Mine at Rajmahal area of the Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) in Godda, Jharkhand, on Thursday night.
Godda is about 250 km from State capital Ranchi.
The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) was engaged in rescue and relief operations.
“CMD, ECL, has reported that a total of nine bodies of workmen have been recovered from the accident site so far,” a Coal Ministry statement said, adding that two injured persons were undergoing treatment in a hospital.
R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India arm, said that the accident occurred around 7.30 p.m., when excavators were working, and a rescue operation was launched immediately.
Director General of Mines Safety and senior officials were supervising the rescue operation, Mr. Mishra said.
The statement said 10 excavators and dump trucks have been recovered.
Modi expresses grief
An inquiry has been ordered by the Director General of Mines Safety and a high-level committee of experts constituted by Coal India to investigate the causes of the accident.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and other leaders expressed grief at the loss of lives.
Mr. Das said an assistance of Rs 2 lakh would be given to the families of the deceased. He also announced Rs 25,000 to the injured.
The ECL has announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to these families, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.
The Prime Minister said the State government and Mr. Goyal were “working to restore normality''.
“Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation,” Mr. Modi said on twitter.
“CMD, ECL has reported that an incident of overburden dump slide/subsidence has occurred in the second shift of December 29, at about 7.30 pm in the Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project in district Godda, Jharkhand....,” the ECL statement said.
“Prima facie, it is observed that the incident is unprecedented, since an area of 300 m length by 110 m wide solid floor of the Over Burden dump area has slid down by about 35 m involving around 9.5 million cubic meters of earth material. This could be due to failure of the bench edge along the hidden fault line/slip,” the statement said.
Senior management of the ECL and government officials were supervising the rescue operation, it added.
A control room has been set up at the project office of Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project of the ECL and R R Amitabh, GM, Mining, is in charge of it.
Mr. Goyal said he was monitoring the rescue operation along with the Chief Minister.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet “Saddened by the loss of lives in Jharkhand’s #Lalmatia coal mine collapse. My prayers for recovery of injured & solace to bereaved families.”