On 12 August 2018, two days before Pakistan’s Independence Day, a total of 19 including 13 coal miners and six rescue workers died in a horrific accident at Sanjidi coalmine near Quetta in Baluchistan province.
According to the latest report 14 dead bodies have been recovered and bodies of five coal workers are still trapped inside the coalmine debris. The victim coal miners were from Shangla, Swat and Dir areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
At the time of the accident on the night of 12 August, 13 miners were working in at 1,200m deep inside the mine in Sanjidi area. All of them were killed as the mine caved in due to methane gas explosion.
After the explosion volunteers launched rescue operations which were put on halt after about ten rescue workers fainted during the process. In a tragic turn of events, later it was found that some of the rescue workers also got trapped and suffocated to death due the presence of poisonous methane gas inside the mine.
The magnitude of mine safety crisis in Pakistan is more than alarming. According to mere compilation of published news reports since 2010 to August 2018 over 357 workers lost their lives in numerous mine accidents.
Since January 2018 alone, 74 mineworkers died in mine accidents. In January 2018 six miners died in series of accidents. In March two workers died. In April 19 workers died. In May 23 workers died. In June four workers and until today in August, 20 workers died. As these numbers are based on published news reports, the real number of fatalities may be much higher.
IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan said,
“It is painful to note that mining accidents continue to claim workers’ lives in Pakistan. In March 2018 IndustriALL along with its affiliates launched campaign for health and safety in Pakistan mines urging the government of Pakistan to ratify and implement ILO Convention 176 On Safety and Health in Mines. We cannot accept continuing fatal mine accidents. Further inaction will lead to more deaths.
“Both central and the provincial governments need to wake up and get their act together to stop unsafe and dangerous mining practices. It should immediately begin tripartite initiative involving government authorities, employers and workers’ representatives to improve safety in the mines. In this process immediate ratification ILO C176 will provide much needed technical support to improve safety in mines.”
IndustriALL affiliate, Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF) in a press release stated that,
“Tthe government should ensure appropriate compensation is provided to mine victims. Proper investigation should be conducted to identify those responsible for the accident and they should be punished for negligence. The government should immediately start taking corrective measures to improve safety and ratification of ILO C176 should be the foremost among them.”