Rajasthan mine tragedy: HCL chief vigilance officer dead, 14 rescued

The injured were sent to a hospital in Jaipur in a rescue operation that lasted several hours following the accident on Tuesday night

Relief and rescue operations at the accident site
Relief and rescue operations at the accident site


Hindustan Copper Limited's (HCL) chief vigilance officer Upendra Kumar Pandey died after a lift collapsed in a mine in Rajasthan's Neem Ka Thana, police said on Wednesday. Fourteen others were pulled out and sent to a hospital in Jaipur in a rescue operation that lasted several hours following the accident on Tuesday night.

An HCL vigilance team from Kolkata and others were being lowered down a shaft in a 'cage' on Tuesday when its cable snapped, trapping them at a depth of 1,875 feet, police said. Additional director general (ADG) of Rajasthan Police Anil Paliwal said the rescue team recovered Pandey's body from the mine. Pandey had taken charge as CVO in June last year.

A vigilance team of 15 personnel from HCL, a Central government enterprise, had gone down the mine on inspection and while returning, the cable of the cage broke, police said, adding that the rescue team pulled out the personnel in instalments on Wednesday.

In a statement, HCL said, "An accident occurred at Kolihan copper mine of Khetri Copper Complex (a unit of HCL), Khetrinagar, Rajasthan at around 7.30 pm on May 14."

It further said that in the accident, one person died and 14 others suffered serious injuries. The company is taking all steps to bring back normalcy and resume operations at the mine.

In Delhi, mines secretary V.L. Kantha Rao said an inquiry will be ordered in the incident. "I had been in the same lift a few months back. It was all good...we will get an enquiry done and find out what happened," Rao told reporters.

Earlier, police said the SDRF (State Disaster Relief Force) control room received information about the incident at around 10.00 pm on Tuesday, following which a rescue team was rushed from Jaipur.

SDRF team commander Ravi Verma along with nine jawans and the HCL rescue team reached the injured with the help of another lift. They gave first aid to the seriously injured and brought them from a depth of 72 metres to zero metres (sea level) with the help of a trolley, police said.

The injured were taken out to the base at a level of 64 metres with the help of an improvised stretcher, a pulley, and a rescue rope. Thereafter, they were taken out from the base by mine vehicles and sent to hospital, police said, adding that three people were taken out in the first round, five in the second, and the remaining seven including Pandey in the third round.

The 14 personnel who were rescued are Khetri Copper Complex unit head G.D. Gupta, Kolihan Mine deputy general manager A.K. Sharma, senior manager Vidyut Vinod Singh Shekhawat, assistant deputy general manager A.K. Bera, chief manager (mine) Aranya Bhandari, assistant deputy general manager Yashoraj Meena, assistant deputy general manager (vigilance) Vanendu Bhandari, photographer Vikas Pareek, senior manager research Niranjan Sahu, security officer Karan Singh, manager Preetam Singh, senior manager (mine) Ramesh Narayan Singh, Harsi Ram, and Bhagirath.

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