4 killed while extracting stones from Sylhet pit

Four workers including a woman were killed in a landslide while extracting stones illegally in Jaflong of Gowainghat upazila yesterday.

Identity of only one of the victims has been confirmed by police as Nur Miah, 40, of Karamsree village of Osmaninagar upazila.

A number of other workers were also injured during the landslide that occurred in Mandir Jum area around 4:45pm.

Hillol Roy, inspector (investigation) of Gowainghat police, said four workers went to the area to extract stones from a trench. Suddenly, a landslide hit the pit, leaving them dead on the spot.

Their bodies were recovered and sent to Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College Hospital for autopsy, he added.

Bishwajit Kumar Paul, upazila nirbahi officer of Gowainghat, said manually extracting stones in the area is legally permitted, but the workers dug the trench too deep violating the limit of maximum 10 metres.

A taskforce was formed several years ago with representatives from Gowainghat upazila administration, police and Border Guard Bangladesh to stop illegal stone extraction in the upazila. But casualties have never ceased.

According to local NGOs, thousands of workers work at stone quarries in Sylhet without any safety gears.

At least 30 workers were killed during stone extraction in five upazilas of Sylhet in 2017. However, the actual figure has never been confirmed by the authorities concerned.

UNO Bishwajit said workers’ safety is a serious issue, but the taskforce has only been working to stop illegal stone extraction.

“We have put red flags in the area and banned all stone extraction for now to avoid further casualties. We are also trying to trace the employers of the victims to take legal action against them,” he added.