NEW DELHI, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- At least nine workers were killed and more than 35 others injured after a state-run coal mine collapsed in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, a senior police official said Friday.
"The incident happened Thursday night when a large heap up of mud caved in inside the Rajmahal Open Cast Mines of Eastern Coalfields Limited in the state's Godda district. Some nine bodies have so far been pulled out since rescue operations began later in the day," he said.
All the injured have been admitted to a local hospital, the official said, adding that the death toll may go up as more than 20 others are still missing inside the mine. "Nearly 60 workers and 40 vehicles were also inside the mine at the time of the mishap," he said.
Local TV channels reported, quoting mine officials, that mining operations were taking place about 200 feet beneath the ground when the mishap happened, and said that rescue operations could not begin last night and early this morning due to dense fog.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of situation and tweeted: "Jharkhand Government & Minister @PiyushGoyal are working to restore normalcy." Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das said he had directed speedy rescue and relief efforts.
India is the world's third largest coal producing nation and coal supplies 60 percent of the country's energy needs, but poor maintenance of the mines is a major factor behind frequent accidents and hundreds of miners have died over the years in mine mishaps.