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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Hopes fade for 3 men trapped in abandoned coal mine in Bengal as poisonous gas foils rescue bid

Officials said there has been no contact with the three men trapped in the abandoned coal mine since Sunday.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2019 01:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Midnapore
Rescuers tried to descend a few times but could not go below 15 to 20 feet because of the poisonous gas.
Rescuers tried to descend a few times but could not go below 15 to 20 feet because of the poisonous gas.(Representative photo/REUTERS)
         

Poisonous gas prevented rescuers from descending into an abandoned coal mine in Bengal’s Kulti area on Tuesday to extricate three persons trapped since Sunday afternoon amid fears that they could be dead, officials said.

The shaft through which the three men descended is also too narrow to allow deployment of rescue equipment, officials said.

Santosh Marandi, Kalicharan Kisku and Binay Murmu, all locals descended into an illegal coal mine at Aknabagan in Kulti area, about 230 kilometers northwest of Kolkata.

“Our team worked on Sunday night and we also tried to go down on Monday, but failed. We are facing a lot of difficulties in the rescue operation but we are doing our best,” said Apurba Thakur, head of the rescue team of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL).

“There is a problem related to poisonous gas. There is also a lack of sufficient space needed to go down with machines. We have taken necessary equipment but we cannot commence rescue operation,” said Ashok Roy, a member of the team.

The shaft would be about three to four feet wide, said a member of the rescue team.

Anamitra Das, additional deputy commissioner (West) of Asansol Durgapur Police said, “We are trying our best and the process for the rescue is continuing.”

There has been no contact with the trapped men since Sunday, said officials.

Another member of the rescue team said that they tried to descend a few times but could not go below 15 to 20 feet. “The oxygen level inside the mine is very low. There is a lot of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases and it is a hurdle for us to go in. It would be a miracle if the three are alive.”

“More than 50 people died in the coal mines in the past five years. But the actual number might be more as all deaths in the illegal coal mines are sometimes not reported,” said Avishek Gupta, deputy commissioner of police in Asansol Durgapur Police.

Locals often descend into these shaft that lead to abandoned mines to collect coal and sell it in the market.