50 feared trapped under debris after mine in India collapses, deaths reported (PHOTOS)

50 feared trapped under debris after mine in India collapses, deaths reported (PHOTOS)
As many as 50 people are feared trapped after a coal mine collapsed in the Indian state of Jharkhand. Up to 10 people have reportedly died, while four others have been taken to a nearby hospital.

The collapse of the mine, which is located in the Lal Matia area of Godda district, took place when a heap of mud caved in at an entry point on Thursday night, according to the Economic Times. 

The accident took place during a shift change at the mine, which is part of the Rajmahal Opencast Project - a major coal mining operation of Eastern Coalfields Limited - according to police sources cited by The Indian Express.

Between 40 and 50 people are thought to be trapped under debris, according to Asian News International (ANI). Jharkand Chief Minister Raghubar Das has asked for rescue operations to be stepped up.

Local media reports on the number of deaths vary, with the Hindustan Times stating that 10 bodies have so far been pulled out. 

Four workers have so far been rescued and taken to a nearby hospital, according to the Times of India. One worker is reportedly in serious condition.

“Our current focus is on saving the trapped people inside the mine,” said Hira Lal Chauhan, Godda’s superintendent of police, according to the Hindustan Times.

Several vehicles are also trapped under debris.

“As of now, there are different versions of how many machines, vehicles and people are trapped. Relief and rescue operations are being initiated,” a police official told the Indian Express, adding that while some have put the number of buried vehicles at eight to 10, others say it could be two to three times higher.

A rescue operation is underway, but proving difficult, in part, due to intense fog, police say.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) from Patna has been sent to the site. A mining rescue station team with specialized equipment from Coal India has also been requested, and personnel from Eastern Coalfields Limited have also been rushed to the scene.

Meanwhile, a separate incident on Thursday saw four coal workers injured when the roof of a mine collapsed in the Putki Balihari area of Dhanbad district.