PATNA, India (AP) — An abandoned coal mine in eastern India collapsed during illegal digging, killing at least five people, police said on Wednesday.
The bodies of four women and one man were recovered after the mine caved in on Tuesday, police officer Sanjeev Kumar said. Rescuers are searching for some others who might be trapped in the debris in Dhanbad, a mining area in Jharkhand state.
The mine was dumped by authorities 15 years ago, but people extract coal in hazardous conditions in small “rat hole” mines in India’s east and northeast where coal is placed in boxes that are hoisted to the surface with pulleys.
Accidents during illegal mining are frequent. The livelihoods of those who do such mining depend on the illegal sale of coal.
Last year, six miners died after being trapped in an abandoned coal mine that collapsed in Meghalaya state.
In 2018, 15 miners were killed inside one such mine in the Ksan area, also in Meghalaya state.