Explosion in Chinese coal mine kills at least 56
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A gas explosion in a coal mine killed at least 56 miners and left 92 missing in China's deadliest mining accident this year. The chances of anyone surviving were "rather slim," a senior safety official said.
The explosion occurred at 22:47 p.m. (1447 GMT) on Wednesday in the city of Xinmi in Henan province, southwest of Beijing. Some 446 people were at work in the Daping Mine at the time of the explosion, and 298 escaped alive, said Sun Huashan, deputy administrator of the State Administration of Work Safety. Among them 21 people were injured. Xinhua News Agency said 56 miners were confirmed dead and rescuers were looking for 92 others.
"The chances of the workers surviving are rather slim," Sun said at a news conference in Beijing. The cause of the accident was under investigation, said an official who refused to give his name.
The accident was China's deadliest coal mine disaster this year.
The most serious known accident over the past several years happened in June 2002 at a coalmine in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, when 111 workers were confirmed dead.
The soaring demand for coal on the mainland has led to the reopening of many mines that had been closed due to abysmal safety conditions. The mainland, the world's biggest consumer and producer of coal, has an appalling mining safety record.
According to other official statistics, 7,197 miners died between January and October last year, most while extracting coal.
In the first six months this year alone, 3,758 people died in mine accidents in China, according to the State Bureau for Work Safety. Experts say the real figure is much higher as local authorities cover up some fatal accidents.