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Three killed in mine explosion in Malaysia

IANS 23 Nov 2014, 11:02:02 AM IST

Kuala Lumpur: At least three workers were killed and 24 others, six of them serious, injured in an explosion in a coal mine in Malaysia, media reported on Sunday.

The explosion took place in a coal mine in Selantik, around 3,000 km from Kuala Lumpur when workers were about to start work Saturday, The Star reported on Sunday.

The dead were identified as a North Korean, an Indonesian and a Myanmar national.

"The gas fire ignited at about 450 metres below the tunnel's entrance at 8.45 a.m. Saturday," The Star reported citing an official as saying.

Most of the injured were taken to the Sri Aman Hospital, where the bodies of the three deceased were also sent for a post-mortem examination.

The coal mine began operations eight years ago.

Of its 119 workers, the majority of them - 49 - were North Koreans.

The others comprised of Myanmar nationals (29), Indonesians (19), Chinese nationals (15) and Bangladeshis (10).

"There was an explosion when a switch for the conveyor belt was turned on," the official said, adding that an extractor fan used for expelling gas out of the tunnel was not working.

Sparks from the switch or the defective fan are being considered as the likely cause of the blast.