Third coal mine disaster in a week brings number of trapped miners to 71

07 July 2011
A fire at coal mine in the eastern province of Shandong yesterday evening left 36 miners trapped underground, the official media reported today. By early morning, seven of the miners had been rescued.

This follows two separate mine disasters at the weekend in the south-western provinces of Guizhou and Guangxi that left 42 miners trapped. Despite on-going rescue attempts, the miners remain underground.

A mine in Heshan, Guangxi collapsed on 2 July killing three and leaving 19 trapped underground. Heavy rain and high levels of toxic gas have hampered the rescue effort but hope remains for at least six miners, and the authorities have reportedly offered the rescue team two million yuan for every miner they pull out alive.

However, hopes are fading for the 23 miners in a flooded mine shaft in Pingtang, Guizhou. The mine flooded early on the morning of 2 July, and despite the efforts of more than one thousand rescue workers, the miners have yet to be located.

The number of coal mine accidents and deaths in China has declined over the last five years; however this has been largely related to the closure of small and unlicensed mines and the restructuring of the industry in the coal heartland of Shanxi, and the development of large modern mines in Inner Mongolia. However, the industry has been less well-managed in other provinces, especially in southwest China and this is where the bulk of this year’s accidents have occurred.

According to official statistics released in February this year, a total of 2,433 coal miners were killed in accidents in 2010, a 7.5 percent drop compared with 2009 when 2,631 miners died.
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