Marble Quarry Collapse in Remote Pakistan Kills 17

The collapse in a marble quarry in Pakistan's remote region on Monday killed at least 17 people and 11 others are missing, police said, adding that the terrain may have been unstable due to the use of heavy explosives used to smash the stone, Reuters reports.

Rescue personnel, including Pakistani soldiers, started searching through the debris to locate survivors on Tuesday.

The quarry is located in the Ziarat Mohmand district of western Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan. The area is renowned for its high quality white marble, both sold in Pakistan and exported to other countries.

Between 40 and 50 people were at the site on Monday night at the time of the collapse, Tariq Habib, district police chief of the Mohmand district, told Reuters.

“Usually a large number of people work in these marble mines but luckily a majority had finished work and returned home,” he said.

Nine people were injured. The number of fatalities was unclear because some families took bodies of loved ones directly to their homes from the site, said Sameen Shinwari, a doctor at the Ghalanai District Headquarters Hospital, about 50 kilometres away.

Cellular signals and other communication facilities are unreliable in large parts of Mohmand district, including the area where the quarry is located.

Deadly mining accidents are not uncommon in Pakistan.

At least 10 workers were killed in a rock slide in a marble quarry in the northwestern district of Buner in February. Thirty workers were killed in blasts at two coal mines in the southwestern town of Quetta in 2018.

In 2011, 45 workers were also killed by a coal mining explosion outside Quetta.

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