At least 10 persons were killed and five injured in a coal dump cave-in near the Kulda open cast mine of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd in Sundargarh district of Orissa Saturday morning. Several others were feared trapped under the mass of coal and soil.
MCL is a subsidiary of central PSU Coal India Limited.
The incident took place around 9 am in the Basundhara-Garjanbahal area, when a portion of coal “overburden” collapsed, burying a large group of people from nearby villages who were collecting coal. The overburden from the mine — essentially top soil with some amount of coal — has low-quality coal called shale which villlagers collect stealthily. Due to overnight rains, the overburden had become damp, which could have led to the slide.
None of the bodies has been identified yet. None of the deceased worked with MCL. Dikken Mehra, MCL spokesperson, said that till late Saturday, 10 bodies had been recovered while five persons had been rescued. “We are not sure how many had come to collect coal from the overburden. A clear picture would emerge only tomorrow when the rescue operations are over,” he said.
The inspector-in-charge of the local Hemgir police station, Banita Majhi, said it was highly unlikely that they would find any survivors.
MCL announced Rs 3 lakh ex-gratia assistance for families of the deceased and said it would give Rs 10,000 each for the funeral. CM Naveen Patnaik, who ordered an administrative inquiry, has announced Rs 2 lakh ex-gratia. MCL officials said they had been warning people not to venture to the overburden area. “The stabilisation process of the overburden had not begun. Continuous rains only made it worse,” Mehra said.