The fire in an opencast mine at ECL's Belbandh colliery in West Bengal's Burdwan district is still raging today amidst fear that a security guard had fallen in a fissure developed by the underground blaze.
ECL officials said General Manager R R Sharma along with two security guards visited the spot last midnight and found a payloader going down as the earth caved in there.
While Sharma and one guard managed to run to safety, the other guard, identified as Subhas Gour (45), has gone missing, they said.
It was feared that he was buried under earth loosened by the flames, seen leaping out of mouths of opencast mines on June 26, which developed cracks on the ground in some areas. Smoke billowing out from the mine and the fissures have covered the neighbourhood creating panic among the residents, the officials said.
District Magistrate O S Meena, who visited Belbundh during the day, however, ruled out the possibility of any danger to nearby villages situated about one km away.
It seemed the fire was possibly restricted in a 7000 sq metre area but "it's very violent and uncontrolled till now", he said.
Meena, who went to the spot with with fire safety officers of ECL and other agencies, said two dozers were operating now to block three openings from where air goes in.
He requested the officials to deploy at least four dozers and intensify the action to block it at the earliest to prevent cave-in in nearby areas.
"Entry in the area has been restricted as the immediate vicinity is unstable. A team of the Central Mining Research Institute, Dhanbad, would visit the spot and provide technical support," the DM said.