The Irrawaddy

Four Dead in Magwe Coal Mine Explosion

MANDALAY–At least four people are dead, one seriously injured and four are still trapped after an explosion in a coal mine in Saw Township, Magwe Region, on Thursday.

According to police, a methane gas explosion trapped 12 coal mine workers on Thursday morning at Htun Yarzaw coal mining company in Kyauke Myaung, a village in Saw Township about 130 kilometers north of the city of Magwe.

“Rescuers rushed to the area and were able to rescue seven miners right after the incident. However, three of those rescued have died since and one remains in a serious condition,” said the duty officer from Saw Township Police Station.

Police said the bodies of Ko Kyaw Naing Tun (25) and the other man who died inside the mine were carried out on Thursday and Ko Tin Kyaw Win (25), who received serious injuries during the explosion, was sent to the general hospital in Saw Township for medical treatment.

Police said the body of another miner, Ko Aung Zin Htun (17) was recovered from the mine on Thursday afternoon, followed by a fourth on Friday morning. However, the condition of the four remaining trapped miners is still unknown.

“Another body was brought out this morning and rescue work is still ongoing. We hope the remaining four miners will be found safe,” said the police officer.

According to the police, the incident is under investigation and a lawsuit has been opened against U Min Min Oo, the manager of the coal mining company, for the negligence of safety at the mine and for the death of the miners.

Meanwhile, rescuers are struggling in their efforts to bring out the trapped miners as the mine contains dangerously low levels of oxygen.

“It is very risky for the rescuers to go down into the 700-feet deep mine as there isn’t sufficient oxygen due to the gas explosion. The chance of survival for the trapped miners is also getting lower. We will do our best and work as fast as we can to bring out them,” said U San Lin, the chief of Saw Township Red Cross Association, which is leading the rescue efforts in coordination with firefighters, police, army, the health department and locals.

In Magwe Region, about 40 coal mines are in operation mainly in Saw, Minbu, Minhla, Pauk and Gantgaw regions.

The Magwe regional government ordered the closure of a coal mine in Minbu after a deadly explosion there which claimed eight lives in November 2017.

In August this year, an explosion in Thit Chauk coal mine in Sagaing Region killed five miners, including one Chinese technician.