Mining Tragedy Continues Unabated

07 June 2001
From April 1st this year until May 16th, 583 miners died in a spate of disasters that have highlighted the dreadful state of China’s mines. Privatisation, dencentralisation of management, sub-contracting, putting profit before investment in safety procedures and the lack of an independent trade union are all factors that are contributing to the desperate situation. The following is a selection of reported accidents that occurred in one week in May in the country’s coal mines alone.

Sichuan Province

May 18th, 2001: A flash flood engulfed a mineshaft in Sichuan province trapping 39 miners, all of whom drowned. The accident occurred in the Qinglongzhui mine near Sichuan’s Gaodian township. According to an official from Yibing city, the workers were all convicted criminals engaged in forced labour. Official state media did not mention this fact when reporting the accident.

May 25th, 2001: A roof collapse during repair works at the Jinzhong coal mine in Zhenpan township, Junlian county, led to the deaths of five workers. The Jinzhong mine is a township and village-owned enterprise.

Guangxi Province

May 18th, 2001: Twenty nine miners were killed when tunnels collapsed 650 feet underground in a gypsum mine in Beihai.
Hunan Province

May 26th, 2001: Ten people died and seven others were missing when a gas explosion ripped through the state-owned Dayuan mine in Longhui county. Of the 20 miners working underground at the time, only three escaped.

Heilongjiang Province

May 28th, 2001: A roof cave-in in Mine No.5 at the state-owned Boli county mine near Qitaihe city killed four miners.
Shanxi Province

May 24th, 2001: Eight miners were trapped in the Dongtou mine in Chengou village, Zezhou county near Pucheng city after a gas explosion caused a roof collapse. It is not clear if the miners were rescued.

May 24th, 2001: Extraction work area 2302 of the Hexi mine belonging to the Fenxi Company (Group) was the scene of a roof collapse that killed four miners and injured one more.

May 26th, 2001: A water leakage at the Xinyao coal mine in Puci county trapped eight miners. Although rescuers rushed to the scene, it is not clear how many people survived.

(HK: China Labour Bulletin, 07/06/01)
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