The fires started in 1916 and are the result of coal mines that were improperly shut down.
Today, some 70 fires are currently burning.
Twenty years ago, the earth opened and destroyed 250 houses in just two hours. Over time the flames have chewed through 41 million tons of the coal.
People live amongst smoke and toxic fumes that constantly seep out of the earth, causing respiratory and skin problems.
Residents’ faces are burning and covered by a layer of coal. The soles of boots are meting off.
Some people steal coal from the mines, selling it in local markets or using it for cooking and heating.
Though they might go unnoticed by authorities, these individuals often are injured or killed falling into fissures.
Underground fires are notoriously difficult to put out. Some experts say Jharia has enough coal to burn for another 3,800 years. Fires can be extinguished by sand, water, or cutting off the oxygen supply.
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