Sarawak coal mine to be temporarily closed after explosion kills 3

KUCHING, Malaysia - The Sri Aman Fire and Rescue Department has ordered the temporary closure of the coal mine in Selantik, Pantu, Sri Aman, about 130km here, from midnight following an explosion which killed three foreign workers.

Its chief Ranger Moos said the order was issued after the department's hazardous materials (Hazmat) team had detected gas leakage in the tunnel.

"At 8.30 last night, five members of the Hazmat team had entered the tunnel until 260m deep and detected methane gas," he said when contacted on Sunday.

He said following the order to temporarily close the mine, there would be no workers on duty to operate the water pump.

"As such, the tunnel will be filled with water and this will neutralise the gas in the tunnel, thus improving the situation" Moos added.

The three foreign workers who died in the coal mine blast have been identified as Tun Tun Win, 36, from Myanmar, North Korean Pang Chung-hyok, 29, and Indonesian Kardianto, 38.

The number of injured has risen to 29, comprising nine Indonesians, six from Myanmar, China (five), North Korea (seven) and Bangladesh (two).

The gas fire ignited at about 450m below the tunnel's entrance at 8.45am, Saturday.

The coal mine, located about 3km from the Kuching-Sri Aman main road, began operations eight years ago.