TEHRAN – At least 30 miners were injured in an explosion at a coal mine in northeastern Iran and up to 80 others remained trapped underground, officials said Wednesday.
Pir Hosein Kolivand, director of Iran’s emergency services, told the country’s official television broadcaster that 36 miners had been treated for asphyxiation symptoms and that one of them was in a critical condition.
Kolivand said the explosion at the mine, which is near Azadshahr in Golestan province, had affected two sections of the mine, leaving about 40 miners trapped in one part while between 30-40 others were trapped in a different shaft.
Some Iranian media reported there were at least two fatalities, but this was not confirmed officially.
According to the first reports, there was a gas leak before the explosion and rescue teams from various medical centers and the Iranian Red Crescent then attended the scene of the accident.
Rescue efforts have been hampered by amounts of methane gas accumulated inside the mine, where a secondary tunnel was being excavated to facilitate access to the trapped miners, the official said.
The Zemestan Yurt mine is located near the town of Azadshahr, in the province of Golestan, and it employs about 500 miners.