A large explosion struck a coal mine in northern Iran on Wednesday, killing at least 35 miners and trapping several others as rescue teams worked to reach them. Officials are concerned that the death toll could rise, as they know that 14 more men were working underground at the time of the explosion.
The Iranian Resistance’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi extended her condolences to the families of dozens of mine workers who got killed in the explosion of Azadshahr Mine, as well as to all workers and residents of Golestan Province on this tragedy. She reiterated that the corrupt clerical regime is responsible for this bitter accident and the large number of casualties.
According to the official IRNA news agency, Sadegh Ali Moghadam, the provincial director of disaster management, said that 21 bodies had been found following the explosion in the Golestan province. He warned of the possibility that the death toll would rise, since 35 miners were inside at the time of the explosion.
“We are trying to inject oxygen into the tunnel to increase the chances of survival for people who are trapped in the mine,” said Moghadam. This was not successful and all the miners that were trapped in the wreckage lost their lives.
Several officials blamed the explosion on accumulated gas and said it was affecting rescue efforts. After the explosion, ambulances, helicopters and other rescue vehicles raced to the scene, while authorities attempted to determine the scale of the damage. There was initial confusion about how many miners had been inside at the time.
Separately, at least 25 people who had entered the mine to try to save those trapped had to be taken to the hospital after inhaling the gas, said Hamidreza Montazeri, the deputy head of the emergency management department in Golestan.
Semi-official Iranian news agencies posted images online from the scene, showing ambulances and emergency workers gathered at the mouth of the mine. Some showed dazed workers, covered in coal dust, being helped by those in the crowd or laying on the ground while rescuers rushed by with oxygen bottles.
More than 500 workers are employed at the Zemestanyurt mine, which lies 14 kilometers (9 miles) from Azadshahr. Golestan sits along Iran’s northern border with Turkmenistan and along the shore of the Caspian Sea. Iran, primarily thought of for its oil reserves, is also rich in minerals. It uses about 2.5 million tons of coal annually, but only 1 million tons are taken out of its own mines. The rest is imported and most of the coal is used in Iran’s steel mills.
Since the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran has begun making efforts to renovate some of the coal mines. Delegations have visited Tehran from foreign countries, hopeful to receive the contracts. Iran has had multiple disasters leading to the deaths of miners in the past few years. Lax safety standards and inadequate emergency services in mining areas are often cited as the reason for casualties.
The NCRI Labor Commission emphasizes as long as this religious despotism is ruling Iran and plundering the people’s wealth to fund its exporting extremism in the region, weapons of mass destruction and domestic crackdown, or pouring such wealth into senior regime officials’ bank accounts, Iran’s workers will face nothing but being buried alive and suffering a slow death under this corrupt and repressive regime. The response they receive to their demands and strikes is nothing but imprisonment, lashing and being expelled from work. The only solution is to unite and declare solidarity amongst people from all walks of life to uproot the mullahs’ regime and establish freedom and a democratic rule in Iran.