South Asia

Bodies of dead miners recovered in Pakistan

Pakistani soldiers outside the coal mine in Sorange district after the explosions on 20 March 2011
Image caption Officials said the mine was declared dangerous two weeks ago

The bodies of 43 workers who were trapped in a mine in Pakistan's Balochistan province have been recovered, officials say.

Only nine workers could be rescued, a senior official said.

The coal mine collapsed after a series of methane gas explosions over the weekend.

The mine, near the provincial capital, Quetta, was declared dangerous two weeks ago but those warnings were ignored, reports said.

Balochistan is rich in minerals but its mines have a poor safety record.

"All 43 bodies have been recovered. There are no survivors and the mine is being sealed," mines official Iftikhar Ahmed said.

He said nine men had been found buried under the debris and rescued on Tuesday.

The blast took place while miners were drilling in the 4,00-foot-deep (1.2km-deep) coal mine. Workers recovered 10 bodies on Sunday - the victims died of suffocation.

The mine in the remote district of Sorange is owned by the state-run Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation, but it was leased to a contractor.

Officials promised action against those responsible for ignoring warnings to stop mining.

Balochistan has been at the centre of a decade-long insurgency with Baloch nationalists demanding more jobs and royalties from the region's natural resources.