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Chirmiri Mine Blast Claims 11 lives

Written By Gopal Krishna on Saturday, May 22, 2010 | 5:16 AM

An air blast in the Anjali Hill mine in Chirmiri area of Korea district on May 6th killed several persons, including a deputy general manager killed and 32 others injured. The blast took place in the coal mines of the public sector South Eastern Coalfield Limited (SECL) in Korea district. The coal production work will continue but after making proper arrangements to prevent carbon monoxide leak. So far the death toll has risen to 11 people.

Fifteen of the 32 injured were critically injured and have been admitted at the Apollo hospital in Bilaspur while others have been admitted to the divisional hospital in Chirmiri. Mining in the coal mine had been stopped since 5th May following a gas leakage, and a team was working to repair it.

While the team was working in the mine on 6th May, a blast occurred suddenly and the entrance of the mine got blocked. SECL employees and a police team began the rescue work soon after the blast.

Bodies of all six workers, who went missing after an underground coal mine blast in South Eastern Coalfied Limited (SECL) have been recovered, taking the mishap toll to 11, officials said on 12th May.

The team had spotted Raju's body on 11th May but could not bring it out due to the high temperature inside. Earlier, the rescue team had fished out bodies of three other trapped miners.

The deceased have been identified as SECL Deputy General Manager S K Goswami, his colleagues--Anand Kumar Pal, Jagdish Prasad, Radheshyam, Ravindra Shah, Dal Bahadur, Santosh Kumar Yadav and labour contractor Nirmal Jangde.

The blast-hit Anjani hill coal mine in Koriya would not be closed down but due precautions would be taken to avert such fatal incidents in the future.

Miners, rescue workers and doctors on the site of blast suggest that it could have been caused by a methane leak in a coal seam more than 200 metres below the surface.

Methane and carbon monoxide leaks are a danger in any coalmining operation. Once ore is excavated, it is imperative to block the empty passageways lest they fill up with potentially explosive gases. In the Anjan Hill mines, the passageways were blocked with reinforced concrete panels more than a metre thick.

According to miners, a gas leak was detected in one such reinforced concrete panel as early as Monday. Accordingly, the work was suspended; on 6th May morning, a six-member technical team was tasked with fixing the leak. Rescue teams of 32 mine workers were assembled at the mouth of the mine to assist the technical team.
The team went in, expecting to plaster a carbon monoxide leak — a fairly routine operation — only to be confronted with a massive methane explosion.

The explosion sent a mixture of methane, carbon monoxide and coal dust searing up towards the rescue teams stationed at the mouth of the mine, killing S.K. Goswami, Deputy General Manager, Operations, instantaneously and injuring 31 others. Four died subsequently and three others are in a critical condition. The technical team is still unaccounted for.

“Methane is a highly toxic gas,” said a doctor at the hospital at Chirmiri. “It deoxygenates the blood by forming methemoglobin and paralyses the brain and destroys the cardiovascular system.”

Human respiration is premised on oxygen bonding with haemoglobin in the blood to form oxy-haemoglobin — a stable chemical entity that delivers oxygen to our tissues.

By bonding with haemoglobin to form methemoglobin instead, methane deprives the human body of the much-needed oxygen.

Coal is found in abundance in Chhattisgarh's Chirmiri area, which is mined by SECL and then sent to other parts of the country.

Chirimiri Coalfields:- Seven main Coal mines are comes under this Area. They are Chirimiri, Kurasia, N.C.P.H., Korea, Domanhill, Gelhopani (North Chirimiri) and West Chirimiri. Basically two methods are used by S.E.C.L (South Eastern Coal fields Limited under Govt. of India) for the production of coals are Open Cast and under ground Mining Systems. Grade of Coal is A and B.

Small part of Korea District lies in the Ganga basin and the remaining portion is in the Mahanadi basin. District Korea has vast range of forests. Up to the last decade of the 19th century, Korea District was a vast stretch of forests dotted here and there with villages. These forests were very dense and thick. Forests and Coals play a very important role in the economy of this North-West District of Chhattisgarh that part of Surguja. Chirmiri joined independent India in December 1947.
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