Special Correspondent

Chirmiri: Terming Thursday's blast in the Anjan Hills coalmine here a tragedy, Radhe Shyam Singh, director, personnel, South Eastern Coalfields Ltd., which operates the mine, announced an ex gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh, along with the mandatory gratuity, to the families of four permanent employees killed. The family of another victim, a contract worker, would be given Rs. 2 lakh.

The company has also offered jobs to the next of kin of those killed.

Mr. Singh told The Hindu that the exact cause of the blast, in which 27 others were also injured, was being probed.

Meanwhile, rescue workers have finally been able to enter the mine. However, the conditions are still too dangerous for a full-scale rescue effort. Officials said Director-General of Mines Safety S.J. Sibal had arrived at the site and was coordinating the rescue operations.

While the chances of survival of those trapped are slim, the company has not given up hope, insists Mr. Singh.

Experienced miners

“The six people trapped in the mine are highly experienced miners,” he said. “In the past, S.B.R. Raju [one of the trapped] won a Rashtrapati award for his excellence.”