Three people died and one person was reported missing after a portion of a state-owned coal mine collapsed on Thursday in West Bengal’s Bankura district, reported Hindustan Times. The mine, located in Baguli village, is owned by the West Bengal Power Development Corporation and is reportedly abandoned.
Inspector in charge of Barjora Police Station, Arup Sarkar, told The Telegraph that a group of men and women from Maliara village had illegally entered the pit to extract coal. A portion of the pit had caved in, trapping seven people. One report, however, said six people were trapped when the mine collapsed.
An unidentified police official identified those who died as Biswanath Bagdi (50), Habal Bagdi (60) and Kali Bagdi (50). Another woman, Rinku Barui (22) was reported missing.
Police said two others who entered the coal mine – Ranjit Bagdi and Sumitra Bagdi – were rescued and taken to the state-run Bankura Sammilani Medical College and Hospital. Ranjit Bagdi suffered multiple injuries on his chest and head, reported The Telegraph.
Power Minister Sovandeb Chattopadyay told Hindustan Times that the West Bengal Power Development Corporation bought the coal mine from a private company called Bengal Emta. “However, since we are yet to get the land rights, we are unable to post security guards,” Chattopadhyay said. “It’s a very unfortunate incident.”
District Magistrate of Bankura, Uma Shankar S, said the police have been asked to conduct an inquiry and submit a report.
Ananta Bagdi, a relative of Sumitra Bagdi, said Sumitra had gone down the coal mine to collect coal for cooking. A local resident, Tapas Karmakar, said that villagers usually enter such pits to extract coal and sell them to unauthorised traders.
The coal mine collapse in West Bengal even as efforts are still under way to rescue 14 miners who were trapped in an illegal coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills District on December 13. One January 24, the body of one of the miners was pulled out. Another body was detected on January 26 but it has not yet been retrieved.