PATNA, India (AP) — At least six workers have been killed in a coal mine accident in eastern India, and police said Friday that 17 others could remain trapped in the mine.
S.K. Singh, the general manager of the Rajmahal Open Cast Mines in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, said the mine collapse took place late Thursday and that heavy smog prevented rescue workers from entering the mine until early Friday morning.
Jharkhand police spokesman R.K. Malik said 23 workers were reported missing after the accident, and that after six bodies were recovered 17 remain unaccounted for. Several rescuers are now working at the accident site, Malik said.
The Godda district where the mine is located is more than 1,570 kilometers (975 miles) southeast of New Delhi.
The coal mine is owned by the state government but is leased to a private contractor. Few other details were immediately available.
Jharkhand is one of India’s poorest states but is rich in mineral resources. It has the third-highest coal deposits of India’s 29 states and the country’s highest deposits of iron ore. Mining and related industries are the state’s economic backbone.