Godda: Bodies of nine miners were recovered from a caved-in coal mine and several others were feared trapped dead in Jharkhand's Godda district, the state police said on Friday.
All 10 mining equipment have been extracted.
The tragedy occurred at Lalmatia opencast coal mine in Rajmahal area of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) last night.
"So far nine bodies have been recovered while two persons have been hospitalised with injuries. Rescue and search operations are on to find other workers who might be trapped," ECL General Manager (Mining) RR Amitabh said.
"All 10 excavators and dump trucks have been extracted from the mine," added Amitabh.
Jharkhand Director General of Police DK Pandey said over 20 workers were feared to be trapped inside the collapsed mine.
Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das is monitoring the situation closely and has asked the concerned officials to intensify rescue operations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile, has spoken to the Jharkhand CM about the incident. On Twitter, the PM said: "Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation."
Minister of State for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines Piyush Goyal said he was taking stock of the situation. Rescue efforts are underway and an inquiry has been initiated, added Goyal.
The company has announced an ex gratia compensation of Rs 5 lakhs each to the family of the deceased. This is in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen's Compensation Act, said the minister.
"A control room has been set up at the project office of ECL; and Shri R.R. Amitabh, GM is in-charge; his contact no. is +91 9771447171," tweeted Goyal.
According to Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, the chairman-cum-managing director of Western Coalfields Ltd and Eastern Coalfields Ltd, "land collapsed at the mine in Godda district at around 7.30 pm last night when excavators and tippers were working there. Rescue operations were launched immediately."
He said at least three excavators and seven tippers were among those trapped, adding that nothing could be said immediately about the fate of the workers until the debris is removed.
Director General of Mines Safety and senior officials were there to supervise the rescue operation, Mishra said.
Police said two persons were injured in the incident and were being treated at a hospital.
The National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) has been engaged in rescue and relief operations.
As per police, a heap of mud caved in at the entry point of Latmatia mines of ECL in Godda district.
At the time of the cave-in at the Rajmahal Open Cast Mines of Paharia Bhorya site, more than 40 vehicles were inside, reported news agency IANS.
The locals said that there was a crack in the heap of mud which collapsed and blocked the entry point of the mine.
Mining operations were taking place about 200 feet beneath the ground.
(With Agency inputs)