In June 2004, three of the fifteen recorded mine accidents were covered up by mangers and/or local officials. In one case, a secret incineration of the dead bodies of miners was undertaken in order to cover up a major accident and remain in production. It was only after the victims families and survivors reported the incident to officials that news broke of the tragedy.
Reported Mine Accidents in June 2004:
Reported Accidents: 15
Confirmed Deaths: 95
Total Believed Dead: 107
Total Injured and Dead: 151
Provinces Involved: 10
Average Death per Day: 3.5
A coal mine in the Muchengjian Coal Mine in Mentougou District of Beijing was hit by a pressure bump which killed a 34 year old miner and injured eight others. Three of those injured were in critical condition at the time of writing.
A pressure bump occurs when a coal pillar suddenly fails on becoming overloaded by the weight of the rocks above it. Generally, the coal is forced with some violence into the roadways and other open spaces.
A fatal accident which killed ten miners on 10 June in the nearby Daanshan Coal Mine had caused production in the Muchengjian and Changgouyu mines to be suspended from 10 June until 18 June until safety checks could be carried out. Daanshan production was suspended from 10 June until investigations were finished.
A coal mine in Baita Village, Wuhe Town in Jingyun County, Baiyin City, in Gansu Province collapsed on 26 June burying four miners. All six bodies of the miners working at the time were later found.
According to reports, local mines have been ordered to suspend production in order to undergo safety tests.
An accident took place at a coal mine in Langya Township, Quxian County, Dazhou City in Sichuan Province on 26 June killing at least seven miners.
The cause of the accident was believed to be a gas leak attributed to a failure in the ventilation system and improper rescue efforts by the management of the mine.
According to reports, a preliminary survey by the provincial government revealed that the ventilation failed causing a build up of gas which killed four miners. They also found that the mine managements rescue efforts were not carried out properly and resulted in the deaths of a further three miners as the victims did not have any protective equipment,
The city government reportedly ordered production to be suspended in all Quxian coal mines as well as Dazhu and Daxian counties. Production will resume once mines have undergone a safety examination.
Li Yongquan, the mine owner and Zhou Changguo, the manager were reportedly detained by police,
Fyuyan Mine has an annual capacity of 60,000 tones a year. It was previously a state run mine until 2000 when it was privatized and bought by Li Youquan an entrepreneur.
Eleven miners were trapped underground after flooding at a copper mine operated by the Pengling Mining Group Company in Baisha Town, Yangxin Country in Hubei occurred in the early hours of 16 June.
Rescue efforts were reported to be in trouble on 17 June, after pumps became submerged and rescuers had to be withdrawn from a work platform set up below ground to rescue the men. New pumps were installed on 19 June and by 22 June the water levels had gone down. Some 120 experts and engineers had joined the operation. However, the water levels reportedly remained too high for rescue.
Heavy rain has hampered rescue efforts and caused the whole area to become unstable. Some 30 villagers from the nearby Shangpan village were evacuated on 19 June.
On 27 June it was reported by Xinhua that the 11 miners were presumed dead
A magnesia workshop located above a disused coal mine in Dashiqiao City, Liaoning Province collapsed into a 10 metre tunnel in the morning of 26 June killing at least five workers.
Eight workers were buried, two were killed immediately. The bodies of two others were found on 16 June while one of the rescued workers died in hospital. The wellbeing of the remaining three is unknown.
A gas explosion occurred at the Huangling No.1 Coal Mine in Shaanxi province on 15 June after gas had escaped from a previously flooded tunnel leaving a vacuum of concentrated deadly gas after the water had been drained. According to reports, the gas meter in the tunnel gave a faulty reading of the gas levels,
Fourteen miners and two rescue workers were killed with seven other miners still missing on 19 June. Six more bodies were found on 23 June leaving one more missing and believed dead.
The explosion occurred when some 86 miners were working. Sixty five were rescued.
The death toll is now at least 22.
The No.1 Coal Mine in Huangling County was built in 1991 and was reportedly listed as a key mining project in China was a production capacity of six million tones.
A fire, caused by a high voltage cable explosion occurred on 10 June at the Wanbao Coal Mine in Jilin Province killing at least ten miners.
A total of 34 miners were working at the time of the accident. Twenty one escaped. By 12 June, ten miners had been found dead and another one is still missing.
Two men - Zheng Suiyan and Zhao Yabin - were rescued on 12 June and were sent to the Wanbao Coal Mien hospital for treatment.
No further information on the fate of those trapped is available.
Guizhou Autonomous Region
A gas explosion occurred at the Yongliu Coal Mine, near Luobie Township, Liupanshi City on 9 June killing at least ten miners. Five bodies have been recovered. A total of 13 miners were working at the time and three escaped.
According to reports the Yongliu Coal mien is legitimately run mine with an annual capacity of 30,000 tones.
According to Xinhua the families of those dead woudl receive 66,000 Yuan each in compensation for the loss of life.
A mine shaft at the No.4 Honghui Coal Mine was flooded late on 7 June trapping some 34 miner underground. All miners were able to make their way out using an adjacent pit shaft. All are reported to be in good health.
The Mine is run by the Jingyuan Mining Industry Corporation.
A gas explosion occurred at the Kaiyuan Coal Mine in Liuhe Township in Xingyang city, Henan Province in the early hours of 6 June. The explosion trapped eight miners underground at the time. Two bodies were found later that day and the other two were later found dead. The other four were injured.
On 21 June, Dai Huwei, head of the Kaiyuan Coal Mine was reportedly arrested along with the mines chiefs of the Hongxing Coal Mine (see 2 June) in Henan province and three other Henan government officials from the local work safety supervision department and coal mine administration.
Despite repeated official requests for safety examinations in the mine, Dai Huwei continued to operate the mine in secret illegally until the blast occurred. According to reports, production at all coal mines at the township level was suspended and some 58 officials were dispatched to oversee reform.
Kaiyuan Coal mine has a reported annual production capacity of 60,000 tons.
6 June 2004
On 6 June, a mine tunnel collapsed at the Daanshan Coal Mine in Fangshan district, Beijing Municipality trapping ten miners. Another six people were found unhurt. Among those trapped were two safety inspectors.
According to reports the rescue work was hampered by the almost total collapse of the shaft.
All ten miners were found after more than 100 hours underground and were taken to hospital on 10 June. After initial reports stating that the miners had survived it was later found that all ten miners had died in hospital.
Eight of the ten were migrants from Sichuan Province and, according to Xinhua, had signed proper labour contracts with the mine company and had been insured.
The accident attracted large media attention and the notice of high level officials in Beijing it is possible that the rescue effort received more resources than most of the other accidents scattered in poorer rural areas because of the coal mines proximity to the capital.
Daanshan Coal Mine is a state owned mine with some 2,600 workers. According to official reports it has a good safety record and this is its worst accident in ten years.
Production resumed at the nearby mines of Muchengjian and Changgouyu on 18 June.
According to reports, Yu Xinhua, the general manager of the Jingmei (Beijing Coal) Group said that production had been suspended in Daanshan and the two others and production would not resume at Daanshan until the investigation was complete. However on 27 June another fatal accident occurred at a mine in Muchengjian.
An explosion occurred on 3 June at the Hongda Coal Mine in Handan, Hebei Province killing at leas 12 people.
According to reports the mine manager, Ma Dengfeng covered up the accident and organized rescue work in the mien without reporting the incident to the local authorities. The mine then declared one death and 23 injured. However, under orders from ma Dengfeng, the bodies of 11 miners were secretly incinerated to avoid investigation.
It was reported that the mine heads believed that reporting large numbers of deaths would result in the closure of the mine and subsequent loss of earnings to them. They arranged for a secret cremation of the victims and gave each victims family compensation varying between some 75,000 Yuan and 144,000 Yuan.
It was not until survivors and the relatives of the victims disclosed the cover up and the illegal burning of the dead victims to the authorities that the accident became public.
A subsequent investigation discovered that of all 56 miners working at the time of the accident, 11 were killed immediately by the blast and one later died in hospital. Seventeen escaped unhurt while a further 27 were injured and received hospital treatment. Nineteen of them had been discharged from hospital by 12 June.
According to reports, by 25 June, a total of nine people had been detained in connection with the accident and the subsequent cover-up. The detainees include Ma Dengfeng, head of the Hongda Mine, Ma Chongsheng, Ma Xueling and Zhang Yuliang who were deputy heads. According to police they collaborated in covering up the accident and reporting that only one person had died.
A flood occurred in the morning of 2 June at the Hongxing Coal Mine in Jiayu Town, Yingyang City, Henan Province trapping eight (some reports give an initial figure of nine) people underground. The flood was believed to have been caused by the detonation of mine explosives which caused water to flood into the shaft from a deserted mine nearby.
All eight were later found dead after several days of searching.
According to reports the coal mine has been shut down (at least temporarily). Local police reported that several people had been detained in connection with the flooding. Reports stated that there had been repeated requests from security officials to close the mine as it was dangerously close to the abandoned mine. However the mine owner, Gao Mingli had reportedly ignored these requests and ordered the miners to continue working.
Chu Tiexian and Feng Huaichen, the chief and second chief of the Hongxing mine were reportedly arrested on 21 June.
On 21 June, Dai Huwei, head of the nearby Kaiyuan Coal Mine also in Henan Province was also arrested along with three other Henan government officials from the local work safety supervision department and coal mine administration.
Following the accident, all town level mines were ordered to suspend production until they can pass a safety examination launched by the Xingyang Work Safety Supervision Department. According to reports, some 58 officials were dispatched to oversee reform.
Wooden support beams collapsed at a mine in Lingshou County, Hebei Province on 1 June trapping three miners.
The miners had been checking the old mine which had recently been purchased by the Shihu Gold Mine company, also in Lingshou County. All three miners were rescued on 2 June.
14 July 2004