More than 50 miners trapped in explosion in Iran, some feared dead

May 3 (Reuters) - More than 50 miners were trapped after a huge explosion in a coal mine in northern Iran on Wednesday, and some were feared to have died, state media reported.

The reports said more than a dozen injured people had been transferred to hospital after the blast at 12:45 p.m. local time in the Zemestanyurt coal mine in Golestan province.

State news agency IRNA quoted a local official as saying some of the trapped miners may have died in the explosion. A rescue operation was under way.

Iran extracted 1.68 million tons of coal in 2016, an increase on previous years, thanks to an easing of international sanctions. It exports only a fraction of the coal and uses most of it in domestic steel production. (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

See images from Golestan province:

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Golestan province in Iran
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Golestan province in Iran
A Urial sheep runs in the mountains near the Golestan wildlife reserve, 450 km (217 miles) northeast of Tehran December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: ANIMALS)
Fog moves up a valley in the mountains near the Golestan wildlife reserve, 450 km (217 miles) northeast of Tehran December 3, 2010. Picture taken December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT)
A U.S. Marine jumps from a house during a patrol in a village in Golestan district of Farah province, May 11, 2009. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT MILITARY)
A Urial sheep stands watch at the top of a mountain near the Golestan wildlife reserve, 450 km (217 miles) northeast of Tehran December 3, 2010. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN - Tags: ANIMALS)
TEHRAN, IRAN - JULY 05: The view of highly decorated wall of the Golestan Palace (the Roseland Palace), the former royal complex of the Qajar dynasty, featuring the image of the Shah's coat of arms on July 5, 2016 in Tehran, Iran. (Photo by Pavel Kassin/Kommersant via Getty Images)
KHALID NABI, IRAN - May 25: Women in veils make holiday snaps in front of tombstones which are symbolic representations of male and female genitals in Khalid Nabi cemetry located on a hilltop near Turkmenistan border on May 25, 2016 in Khalid Nabi, Iran. Hundreds of years old, this collection of stone genitalia is becoming one of the country's hot new tourist destinations for tourists. More than 600 head stones make up the bizarre cemetery, which is 40 miles northeast of Gonbad-e Kavous in northeastern Iran. (Photo by Kaveh Kazemi/Getty Images)
KARIM ISHAN, IRAN - OCTOBER 18: Iranian Shiite muslim kneeling and praying in mosque on October 18, 2015 in Karim Ishan, Golestan Province, Iran. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GORGAN, IRAN - OCTOBER 18: Iranian Shiite muslim men chanting and self-flagellating during Ashura, the day of the death of Imam Hussein on October 18, 2015 in Gorgan, Golestan Province, Iran. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
GORGAN, IRAN - OCTOBER 18: Iranian Shiite muslim father and children during Muharram before Ashura celebrations on October 18, 2015 in Gorgan, Golestan Province, Iran. (Photo by Eric LAFFORGUE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
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