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China’s mines still remain the World’s deadliest

Author : Amy Hollamby

01 June 2010

On the 29th May, the ignition of dynamite stored at a coal mine in central China’s Hunan Province, Rucheng county and the resulting release of clouds of toxic gas has killed 17 workers. This is the latest deadly accident to hit the nation's notoriously dangerous mining industry. 18 people were working underground at the time, and one survived with injuries.

China’s mines still remain the World’s deadliest
China’s mines still remain the World’s deadliest

Police and safety officials are investigating the cause of the blast.

China's mines are among the world's most dangerous, with thousands of miners killed in accidents every year, mainly to lax regulation, corruption, inefficiency and a rush to feed demand from a robust economy.

According to official figures, 2,631 coal miners died in 1,616 mine accidents in China in 2009, down 18% from the previous year. However, these figures cannot be completely accurate due to the underreporting of accidents and the high number of illegal mines.

On 13th May a coal mine explosion in southwestern Guizhou province killed 21 workers, and earlier in the year, a flood at the huge, unfinished Wangjialing mine in the northern province of Shanxi left 153 workers trapped underground. Rescue workers pulled out 115 alive.

All of these accident are despite the fact that in April the country launched a two-month campaign to review safety regulations in mines and other industries that have had serious accidents. As part of its efforts to increase safety standards, the central government has levied heavy fines and implemented region-wide mining shut-downs following incidents.

Mining accidents continue to happen worldwide, with recent blasts occurring in China, the USA, Russia and Turkey, even though significant technological advances now make it possible to detect dangerous methane levels, ventilate mines adequately, equip miners with personal safety devices and use electrical equipment to avoid gas and dust explosions.

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