At least eight people have been killed and scores of others are said to have been trapped in a coal mine that has collapsed in eastern India.
The incident occurred late Thursday evening after tons of earth caved in at a government-owned mine in the Godda district of the state of Jharkhand, and trapped the miners in about 200 feet underground.
Some unconfirmed media reports put the number of the trapped miners at about 50, but Chauhan said the exact number is not yet known.
More than 200 rescue workers were dispatched to the site to help with rescue work. Officials said heavy smog prevented rescue workers from entering the mine until early Friday morning.
“We are trying to make contact with them,” said Niladri Roy, the general manager of the company that owns the mine. “We cannot comment whether they are trapped inside the mine or under the debris.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to twitter and expressed sadness for “the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand.” He said the state government and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had been instructed to help.
In a separate incident on Thursday, the roof of a government-run coal mine collapsed in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district, injuring four workers, two critically.
Jharkhand, one of the poorest provinces in India, has the biggest coal mines and accounts for around 29 percent of India’s coal deposits.