NEW DELHI: There are no survivors in the coal mine collapse that killed 18 workers, Indian authorities said Monday, as emergency teams continued searching for the remaining bodies.
At least 23 people were buried under the rubble after a massive mound of earth caved in Thursday at Lalmatia open cast mine, around 240 miles (390 kilometers from the Jharkhand state capital Ranchi.
“There are no survivors. We are trying to find the bodies of six more workers,” Jharkhand state police spokesman R K Mallick told AFP, adding that 18 bodies had been recovered from the site so far.
“We expect the search operation to conclude on Tuesday,” he added.
Hundreds of rescue workers were sifting through tons of mud and rocks using earth movers and sniffer dogs to rescue the trapped workers at the state-owned Eastern Coalfields.
Families of the victims accused the mining company of overlooking safety rules after it ignored two warnings prior to the collapse.
There was no immediate explanation for the collapse and the government is investigating the incident.
Jharkhand is one of the richest mineral zones in India, accounting for around 29 percent of the country’s coal deposits. However it is also one of India’s poorest areas and the epicenter of a Maoist insurgency.
India has maintained a relatively safe record in mining-related accidents compared to neighbor China, which on average reports around 1,000 fatalities every year.
In 2015, India recorded 38 deaths across 570 mining sites.
The last major mining accident in India occurred in 1975, when 372 workers were killed following the flooding of the Chasnala mine in Dhanbad.