Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Following an explosion at least 33 people have been trapped in a coal mine in Baofeng county (Henan) as a second blast shook the mine when a rescue attempt got underway, hampering efforts to save them, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Coal satisfies 70 per cent of China’s energy needs but its mines are the most dangerous in the world.
Officially, a total of 4,746 coal miners were killed in thousands of mining accidents last year. Unofficially independent labour groups put the number at more than 20,000.
They also say that there is evidence that mine operators often cover up accidents to avoid costly shutdowns and fines.
Last year Beijing pledged to close all small coal mines in a bid to improve the industry's safety record but local authorities generally fail to enforce controls and impose sanctions.
Instead, mine owners have pushed production far beyond safety limits in the face of robust demand and profits.