Death toll in Iran coal mine explosion rises to 35 – by Amir Vahdat (CTV News – May 4, 2017)

The Associated Press – TEHRAN, Iran — A coal mine explosion that struck northern Iran killed at least 35 people, semi-official news agencies reported Thursday, as rescuers worked a second day to reach those trapped inside after the blast.

The Fars, Mehr and Tasnim news agencies all carried similar reports Thursday morning. State media did not immediately report on the rise in the death toll in the disaster Wednesday at the Golestan province mine. In a live broadcast by state television, Sadegh Ali Moghadam, the provincial director general of disaster management, said 22 dead bodies had been recovered.

The province will observe three days of mourning after the explosion, Iranian state television reported. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed deep sorrow over the “heartbreaking” and “disastrous” incident at a coal mine in Golestan province, which claimed the lives of a number of workers and entrapped several others, state TV’s website reported Thursday.

Khamenei said, “It is required that all possible measures are taken to rescue the stranded people.” Meanwhile, President Hassan Rouhani issued an order demanding his government use all available resources to rescue those still trapped, according to the state-run IRNA news agency.

Provincial spokesman Ali Yazerloo said the blast happened at 12:45 p.m. local time (0945 GMT) Wednesday. Several officials blamed the explosion on an accumulation of methane gas and said it was affecting rescue efforts. At least 25 people were hospitalized over inhaling the gas during the rescue efforts.

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