Five coal miners suffocate after Sagaing Region explosion

The bodies of coal miners are recovered following an explosion in Kalaywa Township, Sagaing Region, on Aug. 3, 2018. Photo: Sagaing Region Information Page

Four Myanmar coal miners and one Chinese technician suffocated in a mine in Kalaywa Township, Sagaing Region, last week after a methane gas explosion collapsed the tunnel they were in and ruptured their oxygen pipe.

The explosion occurred around 2am on Friday, but local authorities did not learn of it until hours later. Rescuers came to the mine later that morning, by which time the five men were dead. Their bodies were retrieved that afternoon.

The victims were identified as: Ko Myo Naing Win, Ko Nyan Phyo Oo, and Ko Htein Lin from Yamethin Township; Ko Zin Ko Oo from Magwe; and Chinese technician Kang Guang Qiang.

Four other miners who tried to rescue their colleagues after the explosion occurred were injured and were sent to Kalaywa General Hospital.

Tun Thwin Mining, the company that runs the mine, is cooperating with local authorities to investigate the incident and provide for the victims’ families.

“What I know initially from my employees is that the oxygen pipeline ruptured, causing the miners inside the tunnel to die from a lack of oxygen, not [directly] from the explosion or the collapse of the tunnel,” Maung Maung Aung, the company’s manager told the Irrawaddy.

“We will cooperate with the local authorities to investigate the incident to ensure safety is improved in the future,” he said.

Tun Thwin Mining is one of several that operate mines in the area of Thit Chauk village, where the explosion occurred. Most of the coal is sent to cement factories in Mandalay Region.

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