The miners died after an explosion triggered a collapse at the mine in Baghlan province. (Photo: Tauseef Mustafa / AFP)
An explosion at a coal mine in northern Afghanistan has killed 11 people, an official said Saturday.
The miners, who were all working at the site without government permission, died after an explosion triggered a collapse at the mine in Baghlan province on Friday night, said the provincial governor's spokesman Mahmood Haqmal.
"Late on Friday a number of local people were digging at a coal mine in the Chenarak area of Nehrin district when an explosion killed 11 workers," he said.
Police are at the scene working to recover the bodies.
Conditions in Afghan coal mines can be dangerously primitive, with miners working by hand and little in the way of ventilation, equipment or safety gear.
Afghanistan is believed to have mineral reserves worth as much as $3 trillion which could theoretically generate billions of dollars in tax revenue for the troubled country.
But exploitation of these resources faces massive hurdles due to ongoing instability after 30 years of war in the country, woeful infrastructure, and endemic corruption.
Nevertheless, mining lots are being quickly parcelled out among Afghanistan's resource-hungry neighbours, and according to mining ministry documents the country is planning to sell extraction rights for up to five mines every year until the departure of the last foreign combat troops in 2014.