Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least 35 people were killed and 44 are trapped in a tunnel after a coalmine explosion in Henan. The State Administration of Work Safety reported that 93 people were working in the coal mine in Pingdingshan, when the explosion occurred. Fourteen miners were able to escape to the surface.
A spokesman for the local Communist Party says that the mine needed repairs and that the city government had not yet given permission to resume operations.
China's mines are the most dangerous in the world. The highest number of accidents happen due to lack of safety standards, often with collusion of local authorities. Coal represents 70% of energy sources necessary for the development of China and the Government promotes increased production with economic incentives. The application of security regulations are vague, coupled to a lax justice system: in 2006, 95% of party officials involved in the ownership of mines where fatal accidents have occurred, were acquitted.
Last year the official number of deaths in mine accidents stood at 3500. But non-governmental organizations argue that many of the incidents (and victims) are hidden for fear of having to close businesses and they put the number of deaths in a year at 20 thousand.