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.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - 17 miners have died after becoming trapped in a mine in north-west China at the weekend, following an explosion caused by a gas leak. The state Xinhua news agency reports that the incident took place on July 5 at 8:43 pm in a quarry situated about 120 km from Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region.

According to latest reports, the 17 workers died and there is no more hope of finding them alive, while three other workers in the quarry at the time of the explosion were immediately rescued and brought to safety. The authorities have opened an investigation.

The latest site in a long series of coal mine incidents Dahuangshan Yuxin Coal Mining Co. Ltd, is owned by the Sixth Agricultural Division of Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. It is a paramilitary organization, constituted by the central government in the 80s to contribute to the development of the region.

At the moment, China has about 12 thousand mines that are operative in different capacities. The national subsoil is still rich in coal, but according to some estimates, it will not be enough to keep up with the pace of industrial production. In fact, China is the world's largest coal consumer and relies on it for 70% of its ever-growing energy needs.

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, with a reduction of 19% over the previous year. But human rights groups and private Chinese scholars argue that the figure is much higher: the owners of the mines often don't 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 safety standards. The closure of the mines is, according to the new President Xi Jinping, another campaign against the corruption of communist officials.

 

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