Bhubaneswar/Rourkela: The toll in coal dump crash at an open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd in Odisha`s Sundargarh district was tonight put at 10 by the police.
Sundargarh Superintendent of Police Sanjeev Arora said bodies of 10 persons have so far been extricated from the site of the mishap yesterday at Kulda in the Basundhara-Garjanbahal coal mine area of MCL.
A spokesman of MCL, however, maintained that as many as 14 persons had been killed in the mishap that took place when a heap of coal dump caved in, burying people from nearby villages who went there to collect coal.
He said search and rescue operation was still under way at the site. Police and MCL officials did not rule out possibility of the toll increasing with some more people feared to have been trapped under the debris.
Five persons, who were rescued from the heap with injuries, are undergoing treatment at a hospital. The MCL spokesman said some villagers, who went to the crash site in search of coal, were buried when a portion of the coal dump suddenly collapsed, probably due to heavy rains that lashed the area on Friday.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has ordered a probe into the incident by the local Revenue Divisional Commissioner. MCL and the Odisha government have separately announced ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh and Rs 2 lakh respectively to the kin of the deceased.
Meanwhile, leaders of different political parties visited the spot. BJP leader Dharmendra Pradhan said the company should have adopted proper safety measures and the Director General of Mining Safety ought to have ensured effective monitoring.
Senior Congress leader Kishore Patel and Odisha Commerce and Transport Minister Subrat Tarai blamed the MCL for the mishap.
However, the MCL spokesman said many residents of the area often visit the place to scour coal in the dump yard though entry of people to this area, located outside the mining zone, was illegal and there were notice boards warning about it.