Magazine article Geographical

Hot Rocks

Magazine article Geographical

Hot Rocks

Article excerpt

Fires were first detected in coal mines under the Indian town of Jharia in 1916. All efforts to extinguish them have subsequently failed, and today, more than 70 continue to burn, creating a filthy smog that's damaging the health of those who live nearby

PREVIOUS SPREAD: a young man stands next to a coal fire that has broken out above ground in the town of Jharia in the state of Jharkaland in eastern India. Coal dominates the landscape in and around Jharia, creating dirty and dangerous conditions for all who live there; ABOVE: a young girl makes her way through the fumes that belch out from one of Jharia's subterranean fires. Fissures in the Earth's surface in and around the town not only allow the smoke to escape but also serve as channels for oxygen to supply the fires; OPPOSITE: crumbling houses in the village of Bokapahari near Jharia. The fires have frequently led to subsidence and caused houses and other buildings to sag, collapse and even fall into chasms beneath. No-one is sure how many of the region's structures have been affected in this way, although on one occasion in 1995, about 250 were destroyed over a two-hour period

ABOVE: a lorry is loaded with debris during work to cover fissures in the ground. The coal field under Jharia is India's most important source of industrial-grade coking coal and meets the majority of the country's needs. Extending over an area of around 280 square kilometres, it consists of 23 large underground mines and nine open-cast mines. …

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