ALL THE 50 miners trapped inside the Bhatdih colliery for over 24 hours since Wednesday evening are feared dead. Till late on Thursday, rescue teams had recovered 34 bodies and located another 12.
Around 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, after a routine blast in the 17th seam of the Bhatdih colliery of the Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) — for the mine's expansion — the methane in the mine caught fire. Soon, this turned into carbon monoxide.
While four miners managed to escape with minor burn injuries, the remaining were trapped. BCCL sources said it would be difficult for the miners to survive the carbon monoxide gas after the explosion.
Twenty rescue teams from BCCL and other Coal India subsidiaries, Eastern Coalfields and Central Coalfields, were engaged in rescue operations and were drilling holes to let in fresh air into the mine.
Dinesh Chandra Garg, director (personnel), BCCL, confirmed the death and recovery of 34 bodies from the mine. Earlier in the day, BCCL Chairman and Managing Director Partha S. Bhattacharya said "the possibility of the survival of the miners is bleak".
Coal Minister Shibu Soren, who visited the accident site, announced a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the families of the deceased workers and a job to their kin. He also announced life-long pension to the widows of the miners.
Soren ordered a departmental inquiry into the accident and asked the probe committee -- headed by the CMD of the Coal Mines Planning and Design Institute -- to submit its report within 15 days.
The minister said strict action would be taken against the officials found responsible for the accident.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh in addition to the compensation announced by the coal minister.
After a routine blast (for expanding the mine) on Wednesday, the methane in the mine caught fire. Soon, this turned into carbon monoxide, possibly suffocating the miners
Since 1952, 1,447 people have died in 31 mining accidents in Jharkhand
Since 2000, there have been four major mine disasters in China — in Guizhou, Shaanxi, Liaoning and Heilongjiang provinces. Death toll: 709