Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

50 miners trapped underground in explosion in Iran, some feared dead


At least 21 coal miners are dead and 80 thought to be trapped 1,800 metres under a collapsed mine in northeastern Iran on Wednesday, Iranian media said.

Ambulances, helicopters and other rescue teams have been deployed to the mine in Azadshahr.

Officials have blamed accumulated methane gas for the blast.

Provincial spokesman Ali Yazerloo said the blast happened at 12.45pm local time at the Zemestanyurt mine, which employs more than 500 people.

Forty miners were trapped in one section of the mine, while 30 to 40 others were trapped in another section, said Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran's Emergency Center.

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The cause of the explosion has not yet been determined. "Oxygen tanks should be brought".

Images from the scene showed apparently dazed miners, covered in coal dust, being helped clear by onlookers.

Golestan runs along Iran's northern border with Turkmenistan.

Iran extracted 1.68 million tons of coal in 2016, an increase on previous years, thanks to an easing of global sanctions.

This is not the first disaster to strike Iran's mining industry. Delegations have visited Tehran from foreign countries including the Czech Republic, hopeful for contracts.

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