People gather near the site of a coal mine collapse near Lalmatia in Godda district in eastern Jharkhand state on December 30, 2016.
At least five workers were killed and scores more feared trapped on December 30 after a massive mound of earth caved in at a coal mine in eastern India. / AFP / STRINGER        (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Coal mine collapse traps dozens
00:48 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A huge open-pit coal mine has collapsed in eastern India, trapping at least 30 people and killing at least seven, police officials say.

Hari Lal Chouhan, Superintendent of Police in Godda, where the mine is located, said seven bodies have been pulled out of the debris so far. The exact number of those feared trapped is unknown.

He added that as many as 20 vehicles have been buried in the landslide.

The cause of the landslide is still being investigated.

Catastrophe struck the vast mine Thursday evening local time, but rescue teams were unable to start their operation straight away due to a lack of technology, according to police officials.

Mining operations were reportedly taking place 200 feet beneath the ground.

Mr. Chouhan confirmed that a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team were now traveling to the site to help dig through the mud.

india mine collapse 3

Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded on social media.

“Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside,” he said on Twitter.

Minister Piyush Goyal said an inquiry was underway, according to CNN affiliate News18. Goyal is India’s Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines.

india mine collapse 4

The mine is in Jharkhand, one of the major coal-producing states in India, and run by state-owned Eastern Coalfields Limited.

India is one of the world’s top three coal consumers and is expected to surpass the United States in terms of coal consumption by 2030.