Dozens of coal miners lost their lives in Iran after a tunnel collapsed

Dozens of coal miners lost their lives in Iran after a tunnel collapsed

Published by on May 4, 2017

On Wednesday, 3 May, a coal mine explosion in Golestan Province, Northern Iran, led to a tunnel collapse and death of at least 35 miners. Initial reports were indicating some 90, out of the 500 miners who work at Zemestan Yort mine, were trapped.

Iranian Labour Minister Ali Rabie on 4 May told media that “all miners trapped under the rubble had lost their lives”. He then gave the death toll as 35. In Iran finding an accurate number in incidents like this is very difficult. After the explosion various regime officials provided different numbers for those killed or left under the rubble.

The Zemestan Yort mine is located 90 kilometres from Azadshahr town.

“This mine has horizontal tunnels and the explosion took place at the end of a tunnel with a length of 1,000 meters, and the blocking point is located around 1,000 meters from the mine opening,” said Iranian Deputy Industry Ministry Jafar Sargheini.

“Financial problems resulted in the lack of safety precautions in the coal mine. The workers are even constantly negotiating for their own demands,” said Ramezan Bahrami, head of the regime’s Mining & Industry House in Golestan Province, in an interview with news agencies.

Surviving minors have told locals that they had smelled gas in the mine the day before and informed the officials about it. Nothing had been done about it. The minors said that the mine lacked any gas detection device, ventilation system or safety measures. The miners were forced to continue working in intolerable and unsafe conditions.

The officials have blamed the workers for the explosion. Hassan Sadeghlou, Golestan’s governor, told state TV that the explosion may have been caused by someone attempting to restart a lorry engine inside the mine tunnel. He made no mention of the gas leak.


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Dear Secretary General of United Nations,

The number of executions is rising in Iran, journalists are being detained for doing their job and activists face cruel and degrading punishments, long prison terms and even execution. According to the most recent reports by Amnesty International and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, “Iran’s judiciary continues to sentence child offenders to death, and carry out their execution by hanging”. Also, on August 9th, 2016 the son of late Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s designated successor in 1988, published a shocking audio tape of his father’s meeting with the “Death Commission” which summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Khomeini.

We, the undersigned, hereby urge you to take up this issue and raise it in the General Assembly in order to;

1. Put pressure on Iran to immediately halt the executions and abolish death penalty in Iran.
2. Call on all Western governments to make any improvement in economic relations with Iran contingent on its human rights record.
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