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Coal mine blast kills five in NW Pakistan

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Pakistani paramedic examines the arm of an injured miner at a hospital in Kohat city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, northwestern Pakistan, on March 13, 2016. © AFP

At least five people have been killed and eight others sustained injuries as a result of a gas explosion inside a coal mine in northwest Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.

Local officials said methane gas had accumulated in the mine, which caused the explosion in the remote mountainous tribal district of Orakzai in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday.

The officials added that five to six people are still trapped inside the mine and that rescue teams are digging at the site to recover the buried miners.

There are reports that rescue workers have pulled out four miners, while efforts are under way to rescue the remaining trapped workers.

Ambulances have been dispatched to the area to transport dead bodies and the injured to a nearby hospital.

A similar incident claimed the lives of seven people on March 20. Local authorities closed the coal mine, but the owner restarted operation without any formal permission.

Pakistani mines are notorious for poor safety standards and bad ventilation. Workers use outdated equipment and several deaths are reported every year.

At least 43 workers lost their lives in March 2011, when explosions triggered a collapse in a coal mine in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province Balochistan, which is rich in oil, gas and other mineral reservoirs.

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