» 12/09/2010, 00.00
Explosion in Chinese coal mine: At least 26 miners dead
The accident occurred at Mianchi, Henan, central China. The manager fled after the disaster. The plant was supposed to be closed for renovation and safety improvements, but the miners were ordered to go down into the tunnels anyway.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - An underground explosion has killed at least 26 people in a coal mine in Henan province in central China. Another 20 miners were rescued after the collapse following the explosion in the Juyuan coal mine, Mianchi County, according to reports from the official Xinhua news agency. But rescue teams are still trying to determine the exact number of people who were working in the tunnels at the time of the accident. This is because operations were "chaotic" according to an official, while the manager in charge of the mine apparently fled after the explosion. The main source of these statements is Guoqi Li, an engineer for the Industrial Group Yi Ma, who was overseeing handover operations.
The police investigations have led to the suspicion that the manager of the mine, Suo Yonggang, may have hidden four bodies in the well, said Li. The mine was closed for improvements, while the MaYi Group was about to take over the management. Engineers should have eliminated unspecified 'safety hazards' before mining resumed but it seems that management had ordered the miners back to work anyway.
Rescuers had to suck a considerable amount of toxic gases from passages the before they could descend into the mine, which has an annual production capacity of 150 thousand tons. Chinese coal mines have very low safety standards, last year the death toll reached 2631 people. But this is an official figure, there are those who believe that in reality the number is much higher.
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Three victims were recovered today. It is the worst disaster since 2005. Poor maintenance and neglect of safety rules are the causes. The dead in China equal those in U.S. mines of past century.
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The mine was not authorised for operations, pending restructuring. Negligence and connivance with local authorities. In one year, the mines have killed 3,500 people, but independent estimates say there are 20 thousand dead.
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The mine belonged to the largest state-owned company. Experts point out that big companies cut on safety, taking advantage of miners whose rights and lives are not protected by unions.
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The tragedy occurred overnight near the provincial capital of Urumqi. The local government and the National work safety watchdog "are investigating." Families of the workers who "escaped" arrive at the site. Coal mining confirmed as China’s most dangerous job.
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