MAC: Mines and Communities

China Update

Published by MAC on 2006-05-01

China Update

1st May 2006

24 Killed In Mine Explosion In China

Associated Press, BEIJING

30th April 2006

A gas explosion at a coal mine in northwestern China killed at least 24 miners and left eight missing, the government said Sunday.

Thirty-nine miners were working underground when the blast occurred at the Wayaobao Coal Mine in Shaanxi province, China's State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said on its Web site.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the explosion occurred Saturday afternoon.

At least 24 died, seven survived with light injuries and eight were still missing, the coal mine safety department said.

Xinhua said investigations were underway into the explosion.

Police have placed the owner and management of the Wayaobao mine under watch, sealed the mine's records and frozen its accounts, according to the news agency.

The State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said the mine was licensed and has a capacity of 33,000 short tons a year. Xinhua said it produced 34,100 short tons of coal in 2005.

Calls to the mine, the local county government and the neighboring Yanan city government went unanswered.

Each year, thousands of workers are killed in China's mines, the world's most deadly. Fires, floods and explosions occur almost daily despite repeated safety crackdowns, mostly because of lax safety rules and poor equipment.

Coal generates more than two-thirds of China's electricity and to keep pace with China's rapid economic development and surging energy demands, mines have stepped up output, often disregarding safety precautions in their pursuit of profits.

The Chinese government plans to shut down all small coal mines by the end of 2007, as it tries to encourage them to merge with larger, supposedly more safety-conscious ones, state media reported recently.

In China's worst mine disaster in 60 years, 214 people were killed at the Sunjiawan mine in the northeastern city of Fuxin on Feb. 14, 2005.

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