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Samangan mine blast blamed on negligence

Samangan mine blast blamed on negligence

May 02, 2014 - 18:36

AIBAK (Pajhwok): The death toll from an explosion in a coalmine tunnel in the Dar-i-Sauf Bala district of northern Samangan province has risen to 24, an official said on Friday.

The incident took place on Wednesday at around 10:00am inside the coalmine in Mardahana Tor village, killing 18 workers on the spot. At least 25 other miners were stranded in the tunnel.

Governor Khairullah Anosh, who headed a high-powered probe delegation to the site a day earlier, told Pajhwok Afghan News the latest toll was 24 dead and five others wounded.

Parliamentarian Masooma Khawari and Samangan police chief, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Akram Bek, were also included in the team that investigated the incident at the entrance to the tunnel.

The governor said the explosion was caused by methane gas inside the tunnel. "Previously, mining engineers warned the tunnel’s owner five times that the tunnel could collapse any moment and coal extraction from it should stop."

Anosh added: “Unfortunately, the self-interested owner -- a resident of the area ignore warnings from the engineers. The last warning was issued a day before the explosion that caused miners so many casualties."

Baba Khan, a 23 -year-old miner who witnessed the tragic incident, said smoke and fire engulfed the tunnel in the wake of the blast. Rescuers struggled pulling out the bodies and the injured, he added.

Thirteen of the victims belonged to Dar-i-Sauf Payeen district, one to Sur-i-Pul province and the rest to Dar-i-Sauf Bala. Deputy Governor Khairzada said the victims were aged between 15 and 34 years.

"The tunnel owner is to blame for this tragedy police. He has managed to escape but police are looking for him," he said, adding a complete list of miners was yet to be received.