Four killed, many missing in West Bengal coal mine collapse
At least four persons are confirmed dead and many missing in a coal mine collapse in Kalikapur village of Mejhia block in Bankura district.
Many of the workers in the mine were from nearby Jharkhand.
Locals said that they are unsure about the number of missing workers in the mine, which is one of many illegal mines in Mejhia. Adjacent to Jharkhand, Bankura is part of gigantic coal field spread over parts of at least four western districts of West Bengal.
The incident took place on Thursday night. But rescue work is reportedly affected as the area is cordoned off by the “henchmen” of coal mafia, locals said.
According to local journalists, three of the deceased are identified as Sheikh Saidul, Sheikh Shaha and Sheikh Riajul. However, official confirmation is awaited.
“Unlike the recent mine disaster in Jharkhand [Rajmahal mine] there is hardly any large scale search and rescue operation,” said Ramjan Ali, a resident of Kalikapur.
“As the Kalikapur mine is illegal, unlike the one in Jharkhand, the administration and the local mafias are trying to cover it up and not allowing outsiders to go close to the mine,” Mr. Ali added.
A social activist of Khoyrashol block in Birbhum told The Hindu that area is accident-prone and many workers – “whose name are not registered as the mines are illegal” – often disappear.
“At least eight persons went missing in same Kalikapur mine area last year but no investigation is allowed as the area is controlled by local mafias affiliated to Trinamool Congress,” said a social activist on condition of anonymity.
The coal mafias were earlier affiliated to the Left Front, he added.
“Even now journalists would not be allowed and police will be engaged for a cover up,” he alleged.
The activist said that an area as big as three acres has collapsed.
Local police officials could not be reached till Saturday night.