Afgan mine collapse kills 28 workers

At least 28 miners are confirmed dead after a mine collapsed in northern Afghanistan on Sunday.

The coal mine collapsed following a gas explosion at the site on Saturday.

Early reports that 12 miners were trapped alive underground have since been revised, with officials confirming there are no more survivors.

"Today 24 bodies have been recovered and four that are still under the rubble have been pronounced dead," Mohammad Sediq Azizi, Samangan's provincial spokesman, told AFP.

"People are now holding funeral ceremonies for those who died. Around 100 other workers were taken to hospital, but discharged after brief treatment."

Four emergency workers were also badly injured during the rescue operation, Mosadiqullah Muzafari, Samangan's deputy security chief said.

According to Al Jazeera within hours of the collapse, 20 civilian rescuers found themselves choking on the dirt and fumes released into the air.

Afghani President Hamid Karzai expressed his condolences to the victims' families and has ordered an investigation by the country’s mines ministry.

The tragedy has highlighted the dangerous conditions of many Afghan coal mines, with workers using old equipment and little safety gear whilst working in mines that are not properly ventilated or supported.

Researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanista Javed Noorani told Al Jazeera illegal mines rarely address safety or environmental impacts.

The site of the explosion was in one of Afghanistan’s many illegally operated facilities.

Aerial mining surveys of the country conducted by the US indicate strong copper and iron deposits, with minerals estimated to be worth around $1 trillion.

The results have got the government counting on mining for future growth, with new mining legislation due to be passed down shortly, aimed at regulating the sector and encouraging investment.

But to date the new laws have been delayed by long running disputes between competing ministries.

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