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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Hopes fading for trapped miners
Map of Jharkhand
Authorities in eastern India say they have given up hope of rescuing a number of workers trapped for the past five days in an abandoned coal mine.

They say between 30 and 40 people are inside the mine in Jharkhand state. However local villagers put the number of those trapped at 150.

A rescue effort by divers over the weekend failed, officials say.

Villagers say the incident happened when water from the nearby Damodar river flooded the mine.

The Gangtekuli mine was closed by the state-run Eastern Coalfields Limited company seven years ago.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik says that though it is illegal to operate an abandoned mine, a mafia continued to hire villagers to go down and pick up coal.

The region, which has the largest coal deposits in India, has witnessed several mining accidents in the past.

'Still gushing'

Divers from the eastern city of Calcutta tried to carry out a rescue operation at the mine - on the border of Jharkhand and West Bengal states - but failed, officials say.

The army told local authorities it would not be able to join rescue efforts because water from the river was still gushing into the mine and there was no information on the precise whereabouts of those trapped.

On Monday, another abandoned coal mine in the same area - in Barabani - caved in.

Villagers said most workers picking up coal managed to escape, but three or four of them are feared to be trapped inside.




SEE ALSO
Indian mine collapse kills three
29 Sep 05 |  South Asia
Flooded Indian coal mine traps 50
20 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Deaths in India mine collapse
17 Oct 03 |  South Asia
Trapped miner's six day ordeal
08 Feb 01 |  South Asia
India coal mine owners charged
07 Feb 01 |  South Asia

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