11/02/2016, 09.06
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Lifeless bodies of 33 miners recovered from Chongqing coal mine

Two workers survived and were saved yesterday. According to official statistics there were 598 mining deaths in 2015. But human rights groups suspect a much higher figure. Coal is the most important energy source for China. There is a plan to close at least 1000 mines for overproduction.

Chongqing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The bodies of 33 miners trapped in a coal mine near Chongqing were recovered this morning. The victims had been trapped underground on 31 October after a gas explosion in a tunnel. The Jinshangou coal mine is located in Laisu (Yongchuan District, Chongqing) and produces 60 thousand tons of coal per year.

Two miners survived the explosion and were rescued yesterday morning. The emergency teams, despite working day and night, were unable to save the others. To honor the victims, rescue teams stopped in silence, taking off their helmets and bowing (see photo).

The State Administration for Work Safety has ordered an investigation of the incident and promised that the perpetrators will be punished. The government of Chongqing has decreed the temporary closure of some coal mines.

China is the largest producer of coal in the world and the ultimate consumer: at least 70% of its energy comes from coal. But the safety standards are low. Official statistics say that 598 workers have been killed in the coal mines last year. Although the number of victims in the official statistics are falling, many human rights groups believe the real figure to be much higher, since many incidents are not reported for fear of mine closures.

Corruption is often the cause of accidents: the owners of the mines - and often the owner is the state itself - seek profit margins at the expense of safety for miners. Due to the overproduction of coal, the government is planning to close at least 1,000 mines among the most obsolete. 

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