Rescuers today searched for 53 miners feared dead inside a coal mine in eastern India following an explosion, an official said.
“They are trapped at a depth of 200 metres and chances of their survival are bleak,” said Partho Bhattacharya, chairman of the state-owned Bharat Coking Coal Ltd, which owns the mine.
A pocket of natural methane gas, apparently opened by the explosion, began leaking out just after the blast, he said.
The explosion occurred last night at the mine, about 95 miles north-east of Ranchi, capital of Jharkhand state, local town administrator Beela Rajesh said.
Two rescue teams entered the mine and succeeded in reopening air vents, Bhattacharya said.
Three people managed to escape and were hospitalised, but rescuers were searching for 53 miners still trapped inside, Rajesh said.
The three suffered burn injuries, indicating there could be a fire inside the mine.
“However, they lost consciousness and were hospitalised and could not be questioned,” Press Trust of India news agency quoted Bal Kishan Munda, a local administrator, as saying.