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At least 35 miners killed in coal mine explosion in Northeast Iran

At least 35 miners have lost their lives and scores of others been injured in a coal mine explosion in the Northeastern Iranian Province of Golestan.

According to Press TV, Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei confirmed the latest death toll in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Earlier, Sadeq-Ali Moqaddam, Head of the Emergency Department of Golestan Province, had said that 21 bodies had been recovered from the mine following the Wednesday explosion near the provincial city of Azadshahr.

Hamidreza Montazeri, Deputy Head of the Emergency Department of Golestan Province, said that 25 people, who had entered the mine to help the trapped miners, had been taken to hospital due to gas inhalation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Managing Director of the Red Crescent Society of Golestan Province, Hossein Ahmadi, said 21 people had been taken out of the mine.

The official stated that a secondary tunnel was being dug to facilitate access to trapped miners, noting that huge amounts of accumulated methane gas have made rescue operations difficult.

Officials have blamed accumulated methane gas for the blast, which happened at 12:45 p.m. local time (09:45 GMT).

A local official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the explosion happened while workers were changing shifts.

Later on Wednesday, Pir-Hossein Kolivand, Head of Iran’s Emergency Center, corrected earlier reports about the number of miners trapped in the collapsed mine. Noting that the exploded mine consisted of two sections, he added that 40 miners were trapped at one section of the coal mine, while 30-40 others were trapped at another section.

“One of the injured miners is in critical condition and other injured miners are being treated for asphyxiation,” Kolivand said.

Kolivand added that the mine blast had injured 30 people, of whom nine had been hospitalized in Azadshahr and the rest sent to three hospitals in the city of Gonbad.

Latest reports said the governor general of Golestan Province was at the site of the mine collapse and personally oversaw rescue operations.

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