Eight feared dead in coalmine flooding

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At least eight coal miners are feared dead after rain flooded a coal mine in Jhimpir, Thatta on Tuesday night, according to district administration.

Thatta Deputy Commissioner Ghazanfar Qadri told that none of the bodies could be retrieved till 4:00pm on Wednesday due to the accumulation of floodwater inside the coal mine. He said the district administration had deployed six pumping machines to drain the coal mine but in vain. The coal mine, located around 8kms from Meting Railway Station in Thatta district, was deluged when water entered it while workers were still inside.

“We had also issued an advisory in addition to the meteorological department’s admonition but it appears the warnings were not heeded,” Thatta DC said. The coalmine workers were identified as Mohammad Abu Bakar, Mohammad Azeem, Attaullah, Rahman, Parvez, Jan Wali Khan, Miyan Sher, Gul Chaman Khan and Sajjad Ali. All of them hail from Swat. They fall under the administrative jurisdiction of Sindh Energy Ministry currently headed by Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh.

Secretary Energy Abu Bakar Ahmed could not be reached for his comment. The mine in question was leased to a company named United Coal Mines and the firm had subleased it to another contractor. “Rainwater has accumulated 50 to 60 feet inside the mine, which is around 350 feet deep overall,” said an official from Thatta. According to DC Qadri, 40 workers were involved in mining work despite the rainy season. “I have been informed that eight workers remain trapped in the mines while the remaining had exited before the incident occurred,” he said.

He said the mining work should have been stopped with the onset of monsoon season. Meanwhile, Hyderabad Divisional Commissioner Nadeemur Rehman Memon said that he had sought assistance of Navy to retrieve the bodies.

“Around 11-feet deep water was still in the mine until 5:00pm,” the commissioner said. Director General Coalmines Sindh Mushtaq Soomro said that it was a cloudburst that caused the tragedy. “United Coal Mine Company had adopted standard operating procedure (SOPs)”, he said, as he appeared to exonerate the company and blamed the potential loss of human lives on “natural calamity”. “Water entered the mine unexpectedly,” the DG said.

Kamran Khamiso Khowaja is the district correspondent of Daily Minute Mirror From Thatta and Sujawal. He covers social, political, environmental and cultural stories. He can be reached on Twitter @ZaibSha1 and through email at kamran.khowaja338@gmail.com.