On May 8th, 2001, Chinese state television reported a huge gas explosion at the Hegang City No.1 Coal Mine, managed by the state-owned Nanshan Coal Mine Company. The shaft in which the explosion took place had been contracted out to a private operator. At least nine people were reported dead and a further 45 missing, feared dead.
Hegang miners and citizens are no strangers to such tragedy and neglect. In 1998, more than 105 people were killed in five coal mine accidents there in just over nine weeks.
(HK: Oriental Daily, 09/05/01)