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Fatal Chinese gold mine explosion in January caused by illegal storage and use of explosives, 45 people arrested

25 February 2021

A gold mine explosion in east China's Shandong province on January 10 was caused by the illegal storage and use of explosives, as well as improper operations, Chinese state media has reported. The blast left 22 workers trapped around 2,000 feet (600 metres) underground. In total, 10 of the miners died while 11 others were rescued after two weeks. One miner remains unaccounted for.

Representative image: Shutterstock
Representative image: Shutterstock

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said on February 23 that a provincial investigation revealed that the explosion happened after mining explosives were illegally stored and used. There was also improper work involving fire at the mine’s pithead. CCTV reports that the incident caused a direct economic loss of around 68 million yuan (£7.4m/$10.6m).

Following the investigation, 45 people were arrested and now face criminal penalties. Of the 45 people, 28 are public officials and 15 others are officials from mining, blasting, and construction companies that were involved in making the Hushan gold mine operational.

The mine’s owner, Shandong Wucailong Investment, as well as the city government of Qixia were found to have delayed the reporting of the explosion in order to avoid penalties. They had said that communications equipment was destroyed in the blast, making it difficult to report, however this was later said to be a lie.

On February 16, an explosion occurred at another gold mine in Shandong province, just over a month after the Hushan mine incident. The explosion killed six people and injured four others and prompted the local government to start a campaign to close all unsafe mining facilities. Shandong’s Emergency Management Bureau announced it would start a comprehensive inspection programme until the end of March. The campaign will see the bureau inspect all non-coal mines in the province in a measure to tackle safety risks.

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