With the ground beneath them burning away, thousands of people in northeastern India live on the brink of an environmental and human disaster. (BFC)

Underground coal fires have burned for nearly a century in the state of Jharkhand, India. More than 400,000 people live above the inferno in Jharia, a poverty-stricken area about 300 kilometers northwest of Calcutta.

The people of Jharia live in danger from toxic fumes and fire pits that form in the ground as coal seams turn to ash and collapse. Dozens have died and many more have lost their homes when the ground has given way underneath them.

Officials are proposing a relocation plan for the residents but many people oppose relocation because they survive on the money they can earn illegally collecting coal left behind by the mining company.

This video by the Bombay Flying Club (and also published by the Globe and Mail) includes interviews with two local doctors and a woman whose granddaughter died recently when the ground collapsed beneath her.

A photo gallery and article accompany the video, which is presented entirely in black and white. The story is the first chapter in a project by the Bombay Flying Club about industrial pollution in the Third World.

CHANNEL: Bombay Flying Club

Length: 6:23

Photos/Video: Brent Foster, Poul Madsen
Audio Reporting: Line Wolf Nielsen
Editing: Brent Foster
Produced by Brent Foster, Poul Madsen, Line Wolf Nielsen and Henrik Kastenskov