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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 05:20 GMT 06:20 UK
No survivors in India mine blast
Rescue workers enter coal mine in Bhatdih, Jharkhand
Rescue work was hindered by the release of poisonous gases
Authorities in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand say that all 54 miners trapped after an explosion in a coal mine have died.

Rescuers have retrieved the bodies of 19 miners who died after the blast at the Bhatdih coal mine on Wednesday.

Rescue work at the state-owned Bharat Coking Coal Limited mine has been hampered because of poisonous gases.

Mining accidents are common in Jharkhand, which has India's largest coal deposits.

Chaos

The BBC's Salman Ravi in the Jharkhand state capital, Ranchi, says the rescue operation which began on Thursday night was marked by tension and chaos.

Angry relatives of the trapped miners attacked coal company officials complaining of a delay in rescue operations.

Jharkhand map

A group of villagers then entered the mine forcibly and themselves retrieved the body of one of the miners, Manoj Mishra.

They refused to release the body for a post-mortem, demanding immediate compensation.

The standoff was only resolved when company officials released the officially declared compensation of 300,000 rupees ($6700) and promised a job to a relative.

Most of the bodies have been charred beyond recognition and many are being identified by the numbers on their helmet lamps.

On Wednesday evening, the 460m-deep (1,500-foot) mine in the western region of Jharia region was rocked by an explosion.

Only five miners who were working at the upper levels of the mine managed to escape.

"The explosion was so powerful that I was thrown off my feet and I saw a trolley loaded with coal get ripped apart and break up," said Nunu Lal, a miner who got out.

Officials said the cause of the explosion is unclear.

Mine disasters are common in mineral-rich Jharkhand state, home to a host of old, state-owned coal mines.

There have been other accidents when the mines have simply caved in.

The state's worst mine collapse occurred in 1975, when nearly 400 miners were killed.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Footage from the mine where more than 50 are trapped



SEE ALSO
Hopes fading for trapped miners
07 Aug 06 |  South Asia
Flooded Indian coal mine traps 50
20 Feb 04 |  South Asia
Deaths in India mine collapse
17 Oct 03 |  South Asia
Bodies of Indian miners retrieved
18 Jun 03 |  South Asia
India reverses mine closure ruling
17 Dec 02 |  Business
Trapped miner's six day ordeal
08 Feb 01 |  South Asia

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