11/04/2011, 00.00
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Mining disaster in China. Four dead, dozens stuck at 500 feet below ground

A small earthquake in the central province of Henan has led to a fall of rock in the tunnels of a coal mine. Rescue dig underway. Chinese mines are the most dangerous in the world: every year the victims of accidents exceed two thousand.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Four Chinese workers were killed and 50 are still trapped since last night in a coal mine in the centre of the country, seven were saved by rescue teams, and another 14 managed to reach safety after an explosion that caused the disaster. The rock fall that has effectively blocked the mine took place immediately after a small earthquake that struck the area of the mine in the city of Sammenxia, Henan province.

About 200 members of emergency teams are working to dig a small rescue tunnel, at a depth of 500 meters below ground to reach the trapped miners. The structural conditions of the mine are and that state of the miners stranded by the falling rocks are unknown. The earthquake that hit the area was minor: 2.9 on the Richter scale, according to Luo Lin, head of China's Office for Work Safety.

The Qianqiu mine belongs to the Yima coal group, a large state-owned mining company. The Chinese coal mines are the world's most dangerous, although security has improved in recent years, since some small illegal mines were closed. Every year about 2500 miners die in China, in 2002 the peak was about seven thousand victims. On October 30 a gas explosion in a coal mine killed 29 miners in Hunan, in the worst incident in recent months.

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