» 11/26/2014, 00.00
China, yet another massacre of miners: a fire kills 24 workers in Liaoning
The fire was caused by a slight earthquake, that ignited accumulated coal dust. The company which operates the mine, the state Fuxin Coal Corporation, has a long history of mining accidents: in 2005, due to the negligence and corruption of its leaders, 214 workers died in another quarry.
Beijing (AsiaNews) - A fire
in a state owned coal mine has killed at
least 24 miners from the Hengda Mining Company, in
the northeastern province of
Liaoning. 52 other workers were injured in
the accident, but there is little
information about the seriousness of their conditions. It
is the latest coal mine massacre, one of the most
dangerous sectors in China.
According to preliminary investigations, the fire was
sparked after the coal dust accumulated in the underground tunnels exploded. This explosion was caused
by a slight earthquake - magnitude 1.6 - which directly affected the mine. Rescue operations have ended and production has been suspended.
The mine was opened in 1987 and has an annual production capacity of 1.5 million tons of coal. It
employs a total of 4,660 workers, all salaried
by the local government. Although
the company is owned
by the government, under the Fuxin Coal Corporation in Beijing, the internal security measures seem to have been ignored: several accidents have occurred in the same quarry in recent years,
Fuxin seem uninterested in the safety of their employees. In February 2005,
a gas explosion in another mine in Liaoning
(again owned by Fuxin) claimed
the lives of 214 miners. The investigation
later showed that local managers "ignored all the safety and health rules": 33 of them were fired.
mining is the most dangerous job in all of China, which relies on the fuel for
70% of its energy needs. Despite the central government's rhetoric and
promises, which has repeatedly declared it will pace stringent safety measures
on mining activities, illegal mines have sprouted throughout the country. Often
the owners do not follow safety rules, and send unprepared people with outdated
According to the latest government statistics, in 2012 1,384 people were killed
in mines. In 2011, 1,973 more died, all in accidents in coal mines, a reduction
of 19% over the previous year. But human rights groups and Chinese scholars say
the figure is much higher: many mine owners, in fact, do not report incidents
for fear of economic losses, fines or plant closures.
Very often local authorities are corrupted by bribes to turn a blind eye to the
lack of security policies. Mine closures are, under the new President Xi
Jinping, another part of the anti-corruption campaign launched by Communist officials.
Mining executives to go down into the mines
This directive comes at a time when accidents continue unabated. In Hebei province dozens of miners die in cave-ins in three gypsum mines. Other serious accidents occur in Hunan and Hubei provinces.
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Another five miners are killed in an illegal mine in Hebei
Xinjiang, 17 workers die in a coal mine
The miners were trapped on the evening of July 5 after an explosion caused by a gas leak. The quarry is located 120 km from Urumqi, north-west of the country. The authorities have launched an investigation. China remains the largest consumer of coal in the world; it covers 70% of energy needs.
Chinese government orders closure of 7,000 mines
The authorities order mines to improve safety or shut down for good. Beijing sets up work teams to check on party members who do not get rid of their stakes in mining companies.
Beijing: death in mines decrease
According to the government, the number of deaths in Chinese mines fell by 20% in 2007, for a total death count of 3,800. Independent statistics however account at least 20 thousand deaths a year, never reported to authorities to avoid mine closures.
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