28 miners die in Afghanistan coal mine blast

Neighbors of the Abkhorak coal mine were among the rescuers who managed to bring 100 miners to safety after 28 miners perished in a coal mine blast in northern Afghanistan.

Author: Dorothy Kosich


When 57 miners were trapped after gas explosion at the Abkhorak mine in the Ruyi Du Ab District of Samangan Province in northern Afghanistan, nearby residents dug through the rubble and debris with their bare hands.

However, 28 miners were killed, while 100 of their coworkers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Samangan provincial governor’s spokesman Mohammad Seddiq Azizi told the BBC that four members of the rescue teams were badly injured, while 14 men were overcome with fumes, but were brought out safely. Samangan’s Deputy Security Chief Mosadiqullah Muzafari said four rescue workers were badly injured.

Workplace safety standards are considered poor in Afghanistan and mine accidents are considered common. Javed Noorani of Integrity Watch Afghanistan told Al Jazeera that 90% of mining in the country is illegal. In December, 11 miners were killed in a mine collapse in the northern province of Baghlan.

Azizi told the news media that Abkhorak miners had been complaining about dangerous working conditions Saturday morning. Conditions in Afghan coal mines “can be dangerously primitive, with miners working with old equipment and little ventilation of safety gear,” AFP reported.

The mine’s supervisor apparently ignored the workers’ concerns and fled after the men were killed, the Washington Post reported.

Twenty-four bodies were recovered Sunday while the bodies of four miners that still remain under the debris have been confirmed as deceased, Azizi told AFP.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation of the accident by the Mines Ministry. “In a nation where nine million people live on less than one dollar per day, the workers are left with little choice but to accept the dangers that come with work in both government-sanctioned and illegal mines, Herve Nicolle, co-director of Samuel Hall, a Kabul-based research organization told Al Jazeera.

The U.S. conducted an aerial mining survey of Afghanistan in 2006, finding evidence of $1 trillion in mineral deposits in the country. The government is relying on mining as a future source of income.