Eight coalminers have died and 14 more have been injured following a methane explosion at the Duki Coal Mine in Pakistan.
The accident on 19 February follows the death in 2013 of another eight miners at the Nasir Coal Mine, which is also part of the deadly Duki coalfield.
Due to the lack of rescue facilities on site or locally, help had to be called in from Quetta – more than 200km away. It took 15 hours for rescue services to finally get to the scene.
Seven coalminers were killed in the methane explosion, which led to a landslide and the mine collapsing. An eighth miner died through methane inhalation and 14 more were injured when they made a valiant attempt to rescue their colleagues in the absence of emergency services.
IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF), has revealed that mine inspectors are failing to check safety measures or to monitor dangerous methane levels in the mines:
“The inspectors visit the coalmines weekly to take bribes and do not go inside the mine for which they are assigned,” said one senior official to PCMLF on the condition of anonymity.
According to Mines and Mineral Department of Pakistan, there are around 350 legal coalmines in the Duki Coalfield in addition to dozens of illegal coalmines.
In a letter of solidarity to the PCMLF, Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said:
“IndustriALL Global Union strongly condemns the unnecessary deaths of the eight coalminers and the injuries to 14 mineworkers, and calls upon the Government of Pakistan to urgently ratify ILO Convention 176 on Safety and Health in Mines, and in the interim and as a matter of extreme urgency, to implement the Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Underground Coal Mines as recommended by the Meeting of Experts on Safety and Health in Coal Mines. We call upon the authorities to take the lives of mineworkers seriously and to place them above profit.”