At least two miners have been killed and from 40 to 80 miners are trapped following a huge explosion in a coal mine in northeastern Iran on May 3, state media reported.
Some 25 people who entered the mine to try to help the trapped miners have been taken to hospital due to gas inhalation, according to Press TV, the English service of Iranian state television.
Ambulances, helicopters and other rescue vehicles raced to the scene as authorities worked to determine the scale of the emergency, which began around 12:45 local time at the Zemestanyurt mine, some 14km north of Azadshahr in Golestan province.
Although Iran has the second largest proven gas reserves in the world, many rural areas in the country of 80 million continue to use coal for heating during the cold months. The mine is located in one of two areas in Iran that boast heavy coal deposits, according to the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organisation. The other area is South Khorasan in eastern Iran.
Golestan provincial emergency management department director Sadeq Ali Moghadam said the miners are likely to be trapped in the lower sections of the mine, Islamic Republic News Agency and Fars News Agency reported.
More than 500 workers are employed at the mine, believed to be one of the biggest in the region.
Iran’s extracted some 1.68mn tonnes of coal and produced 602,958 tonnes of coal concentrate in the last Persian calendar year (ended March 20).
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