Several people are feared trapped in an abandoned coal mine in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district after a 60 feet kaccha road near the site collapsed on Thursday. No deaths have been reported yet but rescue operations have started at the site with excavators in place, officials said. The exact number of people trapped or details of the mine accident are yet to be known, they added.
“Some villagers are feared trapped and rescue operation is on. Details of the incident are awaited,” the director of the mines department of Jharkhand government, Amit Kumar told PTI. A BCCL spokesperson said information of an incident at an abandoned coal mine in Chanch Victoria colliery area of Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) at Nirsa, 45 km from Dhanbad, has been received but so far there is no confirmation about people trapped in it.
Officials further said the mishap took place during illegal mining activity. Local residents have also alleged that the site is illegal. The incident took place at 8.30 am near the temporarily closed mining lease area of BCCL.
Teams of police, Central Industrial Security Force and BCCL reached the site after the accident. Local residents said people could be trapped inside due to the landslide and around 50 workers had gone into the pit in the morning. They alleged that close to 1,000 labourers were engaged in illegal mining operations at the site on a daily basis.
Police, however, have repeatedly denied that people were trapped inside. The deputy commissioner, too, said there were no signs of anyone being trapped or killed in the incident. The DC added that, so far, there appeared to be no likelihood of any injury or fatality.
Neither the Dhanbad senior superintendent of police nor superintendent of police, rural, could be contacted despite repeated attempts.
In February at least five persons were killed in an ECL abandoned mine collapse at Gopinathpur in Dhanbad during illegal mining and the government had formed a special investigation team to probe the incident. At least 24 people have been killed in incidents related to illegal mining at Nirsa in the last four years, officials said.
(With PTI inputs)