Twenty seven miners have died following a collapse triggered by a gas explosion at the state-run Abkhorak Coal Mine in Samangan Province in northern Afghanistan on Saturday 14 September 2013. Rescue attempts were hampered by secondary collapses and gas in the mine, with four rescuers being critically injured and fourteen overcome by gas during the rescue operation. Over a hundred miners were taken to hospital following the event, twenty of whom have been described as 'injured' and four as 'critically injured'. Twenty four bodies have been recovered from the mine, and there are no hopes for the survival of the remaining miners, who are believed to be buried under rubble.
Afghan coal miners. Press TV.
Afghanistan has considerable reserves of coal, iron ore, copper and other minerals, which it has hoped to use to attract foreign investment. However frequent attacks on mining projects by militant groups opposed to foreign involvement in the country has kept investors away, with China pulling out of a US$3 billion copper mining project in Logar Province in the east of the country in 2012.
As a result safety standards at Afghan mines tend to be virtually non-existent, with the nation lacking the money to invest in projects that it runs, and many smaller artisanal mines being totally unregulated, and often employing child labour.
The approximate location of the Abkhorak Coal Mine. Google Maps.
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