The explosion occurred due to the accumulation of methane gas inside the coal mine in Marwaarh, 45 kilometres east of Quetta, which is the capital of Balochistan province, officials said.

Pakistani volunteers and mine workers shift to their injured colleague on a stretcher upon arrival at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, May 5, 2018.
Pakistani volunteers and mine workers shift to their injured colleague on a stretcher upon arrival at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, May 5, 2018. (AP)

At least 23 people were killed and 11 wounded after gas explosions tore through two neighbouring coal mines in southwestern Pakistan, officials said Sunday after ending their rescue operation.

Shortly before midday on Saturday, a build-up of methane caused an explosion and tunnel collapse at a mine in Marwaarh, east of Quetta, the capital of the fossil fuel-rich Balochistan province bordering Iran and Afghanistan.

Jawaid Shahwani, the top government official in Quetta, said 16 of the 25 people inside the mine at the time were killed, with the remaining miners rescued and taken to hospital for treatment.

Around three hours later, a mine 25 kilometres (16 miles) to the west at Spin Carez collapsed in similar circumstances, killing seven of the nine miners inside.

Provincial mines minister Saleh Baloch told AFP that all miners in both accidents had been accounted for and rescue operations had ended.

TRT World speaks to journalist Kamran Yousaf.

Poor safety standards

Pakistani mines are notorious for poor safety standards and bad ventilation.

A total of 43 workers died in 2011 when gas explosions triggered a collapse in another Balochistan colliery, also owned by the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation.

Miners gather outside the collapsed mine in Marwaarh area, 45 kilometres east of Quetta, the capital of oil and gas-rich Balochistan province, Pakistan, on May 5, 2018.
Miners gather outside the collapsed mine in Marwaarh area, 45 kilometres east of Quetta, the capital of oil and gas-rich Balochistan province, Pakistan, on May 5, 2018. (AFP)

Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan's four provinces by area but its roughly seven million people have long argued they do not get a fair share of its vast gas and mineral wealth.

The beleaguered province has also battled against separatist insurgents and militants for more than a decade.

The country has huge coal reserves estimated at more than 184 billion tonnes. It produces 4 million tonnes of coal annually, most of which is consumed by brick-making kilns.

Source: AFP