07/05/2012, 00.00
CHINA

Sixteen men trapped in Hunan coalmine

In recent months, dozens of miners have died in accidents similar to the one in Hunan. Official figures indicate that coal-mining accidents are down by 19 per cent. However, human rights groups say that many accidents are not reported for fear of economic losses, fines and mine closure.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - At least 16 men were trapped in a flooded coalmine in Hunan (central China) in what is the latest accident to occur in an industry that claims thousands of lives each year. Rescue teams have been at work since yesterday but have not yet succeeded in freeing any of the miners.

It is unclear why the mine flooded but it might be related to the start of the rainy season.

Hunan has one of the highest numbers of mine accidents. Dozens of coal miners have died in recent months in accidents.

The latest government figures show that 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents last year, a 19 per cent fall compared with a year earlier.

Human rights groups and Chinese researchers say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses, fines and mine closure.

China is the world's biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 per cent of its growing energy needs.

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