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Eight coal miners killed in Pakistan

18 February, 2013Eight coal miners were killed on 28 January in a methane gas explosion at mine No. 23 owned by the Akbar Nasir Coal Company and located in tehsil Duki area of Balochistan’s Loralai district in Pakistan.

The mine had been closed for the past 6 months, as the majority of coal had already been extracted. However, with the intention of extracting more coal, the owner of the mine deployed workers, without safety measures, who entered the mine and fell victim to the toxic gas explosion.

According to reports from IndustriALL affiliate, the Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation (PCMLF), during this fatal accident around 10 coal miners were working underground and were all buried under debris following the explosion. Eight workers died and 2 workers were left unconscious due to the poisonous gas.

The deceased were identified as Mehrab Khan, Siraj Akbar, Khan Zamin, Shakir, Hazrat Ali, Hakumran, Samiullah and Bhakt Zaman, belonged to Puren tehsil of Shangla, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. The condition of the 2 workers who fell unconscious is said to be stable.

In a letter to Sultan Muhammad Khan, President of PCMLF, IndustriALL Global Union General Secretary Jyrki Raina expressed condolences to the union and family members of the deceased and condemned the deaths of the 8 coal mine workers.

IndustriALL calls upon the Pakistan Government to urgently ratify ILO Convention 176, the Safety and Health in Mines Convention, and its accompanying Recommendation Number 183. Although adopted by ILO in 1995 and in force since 1998, Pakistan has not ratified ILO Convention 176. The Convention sets out basic minimum safe practices and workers' rights for mining, and is the subject of an ongoing campaign led by IndustriALL for ratification.

Sultan Muhammad Khan said that, “Mine workers who are the backbone of the country are feeling unsafe and facing financial difficulties,” adding that the government and owners of private coal mine companies are not providing any basic facilities or services to the workers in the field.

Between 2005 and 2012, at least 310 coal mine workers were killed and dozens others injured in major incidents in Pakistan. At least 46 were killed in 21 incidents in 2010 alone. In 2011, some 92 workers were killed in 33 separate incidents and in 2012 till June, 26 died in 24 separate incidents.