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Nineteen mine workers presumed dead in north eastern China

16 December 2015

Nineteen coal miners trapped for more than 24 hours after a gas explosion and raging fire in a mine in Hegang, in north eastern China, are presumed dead, the state-run broadcaster CCTV reported. The explosion on December 16 initially trapped 52 workers, but 33 were rescued, CCTV said.

Stock image
Stock image

A spokesman for the rescue team, Zhang Qinxiang, told the broadcaster that the 19 still inside a tunnel could not possibly survive carbon monoxide levels that he said were so high that the men would die “after taking one breath.”

The blast site remained on fire and the temperature inside the mine “could have reached 1,000 degrees” Celsius, he said.

Several large coal mines run by the Longmay Group, a state-owned company that has threatened to lay off 100,000 workers, are scattered around the city of Hegang, which is in Heilongjiang Province.

Last month, 22 workers died in a fire at a Longmay-owned coal mine in Jixi, about 150 miles south of Hegang.

Longmay was severely criticized by work safety authorities for poor supervision, failing to repair conveyor belts in the mine and waiting nine hours before reporting the fire to the relevant authorities.

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