Five workers were feared killed when part of a coal mound collapsed on top of them at Singrauli on the Madhya Pradesh-Uttar Pradesh border, early on Wednesday morning.
A 250 metre high mound of mud and coal —called a faze in mining terminology — extracted by the Jayant Coal Project, one of 10 such mines in the area operated by the state owned Northern Coalfields Ltd (NCL), crumbled at around 5.40 am, completely burying five workers who had come to load their special truck - called 'dumber' - with the raw material.
The missing workers have been identified as shovel operators Maniram Vaish and Lalji Sahu, dumber operator Kolahal Yadav, cable man Manikanth, and the group's head, 'mining sardar' Sriram.
Medical teams have been rushed to the area, but the bodies of the five men had still to be recovered from beneath the rubble till the filing of the report.
The NCL has begun a high level probe into the accident, along with the Director General of Mine Safety. "It could be due to some geological fault," said a senior official, declining to be quoted.
The workers' unions have sought a judicial probe. "We have to find out whether the deaths were due to safety standards being neglected or not," said O P Malviya, secretary of National Coaliery Workers Association.