3 killed, at least 11 injured in Sarawak coal mine explosion

Three people died and at least 11 others were injured in a coal mine explosion near Selantik, Sri Aman, Sarawak, today, a Bernama report citing the Fire and Rescue Department said.

Assistant director (operations) Farhan Sufyan Borhan said the incident occurred about 11am and the cause of the explosion was being investigated.

He said the bodies of all three killed in the incident had been sent to the Sri Aman hospital, about 194km from Kuching.

Authorities have yet to release the identitities of those killed but Bernama said it was made to understand that they were foreigners.

Farhan said six of the injured were sent to the Serian hospital, about 60km from Kuching and the rest to the Sarawak General Hospital.

A report in The Star Online said fire and rescue teams were on their way to the site, which is about 130km from Kuching.

The police, and the fire and rescue department, late this afternoon identified the three dead miners as a Myanmar national, a North Korean and an Indonesian.

But, they have yet to release their ages and names.

Sri Aman division police, in a whatsapp update to the media, said apart from the three killed, there were 29 miners working in the tunnel at the time of the explosion.

Thirteen were listed as “seriously injured” – without stating the nature of the injuries – while the rest sustained light injuries.

A severely burned miner at the Bandar Sri Aman Hospital. – Pic courtesy of Kamek Miak Sarawak, November 22, 2014.Police said 16 of the miners were taken to Bandar Sri Aman hospital, and eight to Serian hospital, about 133km away, while two others with minor injuries received outpatient treatment at the Pantu clinic.

Sparks from a faulty air-vent was believed to have triggered the 9am explosion at the Selantik coal mine near Pantu, according to initial police investigations.

Pantu is about 65kmfrom Bandar Sri Aman and about 139km from Kuching.

Police said the explosion occurred around the 69m point of the 451m tunnel and the fire extinguished by itself when gases trapped in the tunnel was consumed by the fire.

The tunnel is 95m underground.

The mine, which started operation eight years ago, is about 3km off the Pan-Borneo highway on the Sri Aman-Kuching stretch.

Police said there are some 119 miners working there and they were from China, Myanmar, Indonesia, Bangladesh and North Korea. – November 22, 2014.



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