Methane explosion at Pakistani coal mine kills 6 miners

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A methane explosion collapsed a section of a coal mine in southwestern Pakistan, killing six miners and triggering a day-long rescue operation, officials said Friday. Five miners were reported injured.

The explosion took place on Thursday in the district of Harnai in southwestern Baluchistan province. A mines inspector, Mohammad Akram, said that it took rescuers 24 hours to get to the trapped miners and retrieve the bodies of those killed.

Pakistani coal miners often complain that mine owners fail to take safety precautions and install needed equipment. However, despite the danger and low wages, thousands work in mines in Baluchistan, where unemployment is higher than in other parts of Pakistan.

Baluchistan has for decades also been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatist groups fighting for independence from the central government in Islamabad. The separatists complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of the province’s resources and wealth.

The province has also seen a surge in militant attacks in recent months.