09/08/2006, 00.00
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For Card Toppo the poor are increasingly victims of workplace tragedies

by Nirmala Carvalho

The prelate expresses sorrow and closeness to the families of the 54 victims of the Bhadith mine disaster, who died trapped for two days underground. He urges the country's executives to make workers' dignity their priority.

Ranchi (AsiaNews) – After two days trapped underground 54 miners have died in the Bhatdih mine in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. More and more, the marginalised and the poor "are victims of tragedies" like this one Card Telesphore Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi and chairman of the Bishops' Conference of India, told AsiaNews. In his opinion, it is paramount "that those who are responsible for running such operations must think above all else about the dignity of those who work for them".

In light of this "terrible tragedy", the prelate expressed his "condolences to all those who lost a loved one", urging "the executives in charge of such dangerous activities to take every possible precaution to protect human life".

"Life," he said, "is sacred and Man's dignity must come first, whatever one's does. To me this tragedy is a personal one because it has taken place in my own state of and because I know very well the kind of life these people lead and the kind of situation they are in."

"Every day the fate of the poor urgently compels us, not only as individuals but also as a nation, to do something."

The explosion that killed the miners was reportedly caused by an accumulation of methane gas and carbon monoxide.

Rescue crews have so far recovered 19 bodies and there is no hope of survival for those still trapped in the mine.

The authorities have announced a compensation package of 300,000 rupees for the families of the victims.

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