Original source: A gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in northern China on Sunday, killing at least 74 miners and trapping dozens in the still-burning shaft.

The pre-dawn blast occurred while 436 workers were toiling in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao, near Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province.

More than 300 miners escaped alive, but at least 74 died and 113 have been hospitalised, including 21 in critical condition.

Doctors in the Xishan Hospital of Coal and Electricity in Gujiao reported that most of the rescued miners were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

State Administration of Work Safety chief Luo Lin and State Bureau of Coal Industry head Zhao Tiechui arrived at the accident site on Sunday afternoon.

Provincial Communist Party secretary Zhang Baoshun, who is overseeing the ongoing rescue operation by 80 workers from seven professional rescue teams, called for effective efforts to prevent secondary disasters.

Relatives of the trapped miners reported that they had received mobile phone calls from loved ones who remain trapped in the mine.

The Tunlan mine, which produces five million tons of coking coal a year, is owned by Shanxi Coking Coal Group, China’s largest coking coal producer.

Coking coal is used in the manufacture of steel.

China’s mines are the world’s most dangerous, with more than 3,000 deaths a year in fires, floods and explosions.

Beijing has reduced mine accidents by closing more than 1,000 dangerous small mines last year.

About 3,200 people died in coal mine accidents in 2008, a 15 per cent decline from 2007.

While China’s safety record is dismal, the numbers mask great disparities.

Large state-run mines tend to have safety records comparable to those of developed countries, while smaller, privately owned mines have little or no safety equipment and poor training.

Government data shows that almost 80 per cent of China’s 16,000 mines are illegal operations, subcontracted by local governments to private contractors who tend to employ poorly trained migrant workers.

Managers at smaller mines often ignore labour laws and safety regulations, cutting corners on health and safety and skimping on equipment in order to maximise profits.


CONTRIBUTOR

Morning Star
Morning Star

The Morning Star is the socialist daily newspaper published in Great Britain.

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