Hyderabad, June 16: Seventeen miners of the Singareni collieries were killed this afternoon after a roof collapsed in the underground mine at Godavarikhani in Karimnagar district.
The accident occurred around 2 pm when the first shift miners were getting ready to leave from one of the three seams.
They were working on a new shaft of the mine named 7 LEP, about 200 meters below the ground.
A spokesman of Singareni collieries said the accident occurred at the “three seams working” location, which begun production in 1993 — at the fag end of the first shift. About 300 miners working elsewhere in the mine are safe and are engaged in rescue operations, he added.
The walls of an adjoining mine, 6 LEP, developed cracks during drilling and water gushed inside 7 LEP. Matters turned worse when the water level began rising at the rate of three inches per hour. This continued till 6 pm, the spokesman added.
The company security came to know about the accident only when they went looking for the missing miners. The miners had not handed back their head lamps nor had they entered the return muster till 3 pm.
The spokesman said only 17 miners were working in the seam, which was 2-km long. They probably failed to notice the hole in the wall as they were getting ready to leave and the flood must have caught them offguard, he added.
A senior collieries official said they had flown in rescue experts from Kothagudem and Hyderabad. “We are now trying to drain the water from the location. We hope some of them could have saved themselves by sitting on a raised place. We have only learnt that 17 were trapped.”
This is the first major accident in the Singareni collieries this year.
“We are yet to ascertain the cause of accident and the water gushing in. Only a detailed inquiry will reveal the faults,” the official said. The director of mine safety is expected to hold a probe into the mishap.