Casualties reported after Iran coal mine explosion (Al Jazeera – May 3, 2017)

At least 25 people are believed to be trapped in coal mine outside the northern town of Azadshahr, reports say.

A large explosion has struck a coal mine in northern Iran, trapping dozens of miners and killing at least two, according to state media.

Press TV, the English service of Iranian state television, reported that at least two miners had lost their lives and scores of others were wounded in the explosion at the Zemestanyurt mine, about 14km outside the town of Azadshahr.

The blast happened at 12:45pm (09:45 GMT), at a time when workers were changing shifts, according to local media. State news agency IRNA quoted a local official as saying that some of the miners stuck inside may have died. There was confusion about how many might be underground.

Hossein Ahmadi, head of the provincial Red Crescent, told state TV that about 26 were believed to be inside the mine. Sadegh Ali Moghadam, the provincial director general of disaster management, provided a similar figure, telling state TV that 24 to 26 workers were thought to be trapped following a headcount by mine authorities.

Other officials had earlier provided significantly higher estimates: Pir Hossein Kolivand, who runs Iran’s emergency department, previously said as many as 80 miners could be trapped in two sections of the mine.

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