Avoidable mining deaths continue in Pakistan as a methane gas explosion claims the lives of another five miners on 2 April 2016.
Five miners were killed and eight were injured in an explosion at a coal mine owned by Sheraz Coal Company, in the Doli area of Orakzai Agency, in the north western province of Khyber Paktunkhwa.
IndustriALL reported on a similar accident in the same region on 12 March 2016, when 10 workers were killed. Subsequently, another accident on 20 March 2016 in the Doli area killed seven miners, and many were injured. Following this accident, mines in the Doli region were closed. However, the owner of the mine restarted the operation illegally, without obtaining official permission.
Thirteen workers were inside the coalmine when a methane gas explosion occurred, trapping them all. A rescue operation carried out by the political administration and Frontier Corps personnel rescued eight injured miners, who were rushed to a nearby hospital, and retrieved the bodies of five who had been killed.
The dead were identified as Ihsanul Haq, Hussain Ahmad, Syed Alam, Arshad and Amanullah. The names of the injured are Saqi Rehman, Ameer Rehman, Nasir Ahmad, Mohammad Ayaz, Mohammad Afzal, Bakht Zameen, Noor Ahmed and Sohail. Four of the five who were killed are from Zara Dherai village of Shangla district, while another worker is from Dir.
According to reports, the owner, contractor and mine manager have been arrested, and the company’s mining license will be annulled. Another six mine owners who were operating mines without permission were also arrested.
A survey of reported accidents since 2010 shows that at least 240 workers have died in 40 accidents. In less than four months of 2016, Pakistani mines claimed the lives of 30 mine workers.
IndustriALL mining director Glen Mpufane said:
“Yet another accident within this short period highlights the callous attitude of both the government and employers to safety in Pakistani mines.
“We condemn this indifference to the avoidable loss of life, and demand again that the government of Pakistan immediately ratify ILO Convention 176 on Health and Safety in Mines.
“The government must also ensure that victims receive appropriate compensation, that medical facilities are provided to the injured, and harsh sanctions applied to negligent employers.”
IndustriALL believes that ratification of ILO Convention 176 is key to changing the safety culture in mining. The government must also urgently implement the ILO 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.
Ratification of Convention 176 would create a safety culture where workers receive information, training and genuine consultation and participation in safety and health measures to deal with mining hazards.
The convention also impresses upon employers the need ensure preventive and protective measures at the mine and take all necessary measures to eliminate or minimize the risks to safety and health in mines under their control.