Hundreds of miners were trapped Tuesday in West Bengal after a massive power failure across the north of the country left them unable to operate their lifts, the chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee said.
"We are trying to rescue the coal miners. All efforts are on to resume power supplies. You need power supplies to run the lifts in the underground mines," Mamata Banerjee told reporters in the state capital Kolkata.
She said there were "hundreds" of miners trapped in Burdwan, which is about 180 kilometres (110 miles) northwest of Kolkata, where mines are operated by the government-owned Eastern Coalfields Ltd.
The massive power crisis struck around 1:00 pm in the middle of the working day when regional power grids collapsed, blacking out more than half the country in a crisis affecting over 600 million people.
The city of Kolkata was without power as was the surrounding state of West Bengal as the eastern grid, which supplies five states, failed under the stress of over-demand.
"Over 200 miners are stuck in several coal mines. They cannot come out till the power service is restored," Niladri Roy, general manager at Eastern Coalfields in Kolkata, told AFP.
Roy said the miners had been asked to move to a location where there was good ventilation in the coal mines and a rescue team was trying to supply food and water to the miners.
"We want to bring them out as soon as possible," he said.