Rescue work underway at Lalmatia colliery in Godda on Saturday. Picture by Gautam Dey nSee Page 8
Ranchi, Dec. 31: Chief secretary Rajbala Verma conceded today that lapses in safety measures led to the mine collapse at Eastern Coalfields' Lalmatia colliery in Godda on Thursday evening, even as five more bodies were recovered from the debris, taking the total number of dead to 16.
Additional National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been sent to the site, 400km from the state capital.
"Prima facie, it appears that safety aspects were disregarded at the open cast mine. Technical teams of Coal India Limited, Eastern Coalfields (ECL) and Directorate General of Mines Safety are probing the collapse from various angles. Our police are on the job too. I have been told that FIRs had been registered against the coal company (ECL) and the agency (Mahalaxmi) that was carrying out mining work," said Verma, who visited the spot yesterday along with DGP D.K. Pandey.
Dubbing the mine collapse as "one of the most unfortunate incidents that Jharkhand witnessed in 2016," she added that 16 bodies had been retrieved from the debris till now.
"Five among them were recovered today. We have made arrangements to take the bodies of the labourers to the native places," she added.
DGMS director-general Rahul Guha said: "A clearer picture on the exact cause of the collapse will emerge after three teams of experts submitted their reports. Giving the exact figure of people trapped inside the mine is not possible at the moment, but estimates suggest there could be around 20 workers."
As for the reasons behind the mishap, Guha called it "a complete failure in monitoring management of operation at many levels".