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Twelve mine workers killed in Pakistan

22 March, 2024Twelve mine workers were killed in a gas explosion at a coalmine in Balochistan on Tuesday.

The underground explosion occurred after a build up of methane gas inside the Jalat Khan Coal Company’s administered coalmine in Harnai district of Balochistan in Pakistan. The explosion caused the coal mine to cave in, trapping the miners. Hearing the explosion, eight workers attempted to rescue the trapped miners but were themselves trapped for several hours.

The rescue operation was carried out in the middle of the night. The bodies of twelve workers were recovered by Wednesday and eight other miners were rushed to hospital.

Underground explosions in coal mines due to build-up of methane gas is a recurring phenomenon in Pakistan. In January this year, three coal workers died from gas poisoning while performing underground mine work. A lack of a proper warning system gas build-ups inside the mines has resulted in a large number of fatalities in Pakistan’s mines. In 2023, according to IndustriALL’s affiliates, at least a hundred workers were killed, while fifty more sustaining serious injuries in accidents at coal mines in Pakistan.

IndustriALL Global Union has been campaigning for proper implementation of health and safety mechanisms in Pakistan's mining areas, where the safety situation in unregistered mines is far worse. Every day, hundreds of mine workers go down the underground mines in Balochistan in completely unsafe working conditions. Often workers and their families do not even receive adequate compensation in case of workplace incident.

Ashutosh Bhattacharya, IndustriALL’s south Asia regional secretary, says:

“These deaths can be prevented if employers and the government take workplace safety seriously. We urge the Pakistan government to immediately ratify ILO C176 as we believe the ratification can be a first step in the direction to ensure proper implementation of safety mechanism at mining sites in Pakistan.”