According to Press TV, accumulation of methane gas at the local coal mine in the province’s Azad-Shahr triggered the blast on Wednesday, that also left 73 other workers injured. Twenty-two bodies have been retrieved belonging to those trapped.
Rouhani flew to Golestan on Sunday, and immediately headed to Azad-Shar to address the situation and meet with the tragedy’s survivors and miners.
The president called for the explosion to be investigated “so that such disasters do not repeat themselves in the future.”
Authorities declared three days of mourning in the province, beginning on Thursday.
Ali Rabi’ei, the Iranian Minister for Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare, also traveled to Azad-Shahr, where he said many of the country’s 20-, 30-, and 50-year-old mines, especially coal mines, were in need of renovation and had to have their equipment replaced.
‘Some workers may still be alive’
He said some of those trapped might still be alive as they could have been working in a part of the mine, into which methane gas did not percolate at the time of the blast.
The debris from the blast equals that of a four-story building, he said, adding operations to remove the rubble might take five or six days or even longer.
Rescue workers are currently trying to reach the site of the explosion from a different direction, Rabi’ei said.
The mine, operated by the private sector, started 13 years ago, amid reports that the equipment used in the pit was in dire need of repair or replacement.
“I had already received some reports about this mine concerning the contractor. Today, some new problems came to my attention,” the minister said, without explanation.