Sichuan mine death toll reaches 41
31 August 2012
The death toll at the Xiaojiawan coal mine in Panzhihua city in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan rose to 41 on August 31, with five others still trapped underground. State media said that one person was pulled out alive more than 36 hours after the explosion at the mine.
Police have detained the mine owners, and the Sichuan government has launched a province-wide safety check on all coal mines and pledged to shut down those with safety hazards.
There were 154 miners working at the mine when the explosion occurred, and 108 survivors have been taken to the surface.
It is China's deadliest mine accident since November 2009 when 108 people were killed in an explosion in a mine in Heilongjiang province.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the rescue work was dangerous because of high temperatures in the mine and dense carbon monoxide that meant only mask-wearing paramedics were able to enter the shaft.
Of the miners who made it to the surface, 50 are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning and seven are in critical condition, Xinhua said.
The State Administration of Work Safety said last week that it planned to close more than 600 small coal mines — considered more dangerous than larger mines — this year to further reduce fatalities.
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