11/25/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Death toll from Hegang mine rises to 107

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.

Hegang (AsiaNews) - Teams of rescuers have recovered the bodies of three more miners this morning, , bringing to 107 the death toll from an explosion in the mine of Hegang (Heilongjiang) on 22 November. With the recovery of three bodies the Hegang mine disaster becomes the worst incident since August 2005 when a mine was flooded in Guangdong and killed 123 people.

Relatives of the dead and injured demand a full investigation, but already an initial review shows that the cause of the disaster is the carelessness of the administration of the mine to safety standards.

The mine was overcrowded and with inadequate ventilation. This contributed to the accumulation of gas and the explosion.

China's mines are the most dangerous in the world. To meet the growing demand for energy in the country - 70% based on coal - the coal mine owners push to the extreme exploitation of gas fields without ensuring safety.

In 2008, the Government closed over 1,000 small mines considered unsafe and there were "only" 3200 dead according to official figures, fewer than in previous years, but still the highest number in the world. The number of deaths last year in China is equal to that in the U.S. in 1907, the worst year for the American giant. Unofficial sources say the victims for mining accidents in China are at least 20 thousand a year.

 

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