20 miners feared dead in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province 

The incident was triggered by a rockslide at a marble quarry in the Mohmand district. Casualties are expected to rise as dozens remain trapped under the debris

September 09, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Mining accident Pakistan
The accident took place in the Ziarat Ghar area of the tribal Mohmand district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. (Photo: Provincial disaster management authority)

In a major accident in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, at least 20 miners are feared dead after a rockslide at the marble quarry trapped several workers. The accident took place in the Ziarat Ghar area of the tribal Mohmand district late night on September 7, Monday. Casualties are expected to rise as several miners remain trapped under the debris.

As per reports, a large boulder fell over the miners at the marble mine, affecting six units and killing around twenty miners, according to latest estimates. Nearly 25 others are still believed to be trapped as evacuation operations are ongoing. 

Mine-related accidents have become a regular occurrence in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. Hundreds of vulnerable miners are estimated to have lost their lives in such accidents each year. Pakistan Central Mines Labour Federation notes that between 100 to 200 laborers die each year because of negligence of the Pakistani authorities to ensure safety at mines. IndustriaLL Global estimates that more than 430 coal miner workers have died in the country since 2010.

Miners are often forced to work over 10 hours shifts without safety gear, which is in violation of Pakistan’s labor laws.

At least 17 coal miners reportedly died in different areas of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in July. In January and February, at least five coal miners died in three separate mine-related accidents in Balochistan’s Duki and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Tirah area. The Balochistan Labor Federation blamed the federal government and the mine owners for not taking into consideration the safety concerns of coal miners in the country.

Labor unions based in Pakistan have alleged that marble quarrying in the country’s mountainous regions is still done using outdated techniques and blasting through dynamite, which results in high risk of accidents.