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New Chinese mine blast brings coal fatality total to 60 in a week

04 September 2012

Fifteen miners have been confirmed dead after an explosion in a coal mine in east China’s Jiangxi province on September 3. Thirty-eight miners were working in the Gaokeng coal mine in Pingxiang city when the blast occurred and 23 either escaped or were pulled out to safety, Xinhua reported. A State Administration of Work Safety team has arrived at the mine to direct rescue work.

China's State Administration of Work Safety is coordinating rescue operations at both of the affected mines
China's State Administration of Work Safety is coordinating rescue operations at both of the affected mines

A total of 11 miners are receiving medical treatment in local hospitals. Of the six critically injured, five suffered burns to more than 50 percent of their bodies.

The Pingxiang Mining Bureau is affiliated with the state-owned Jiangxi Coal Group Corporation. An investigation into the cause of the incident has been launched.

The Jiangxi tragedy is the country's second serious coal mine blast within a week after a deadly accident in Sichuan province on August 30 left 45 dead and one missing.

At the Xiaojiawan mine in Panzhihua, Sichuan province, the death toll of the mine blast there climbed to 45, as another body was retrieved on September 2.

More than 2,000 search and rescue personnel, 300 of whom are professionals, are taking turns to look for the last miner trapped underground.

"They are sparing no efforts in the search and rescue operation although the chance of survival for the miner is slim, and they think he is in the core area of the explosion," said Mu Fei, deputy chief of the Panzhihua city government information office.

A total of 154 miners were in the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua when the gas explosion happened, with 108 surviving.

According to Xinhua, there was no gas sensor where the workers drilled - which would have automatically cut the power - so work continued despite the excessive amount of gas.

Quoted by China Daily, Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, said the lack of a gas sensor was a crime against miners.

Yang is head of the State investigation group that is probing the explosion, looking at whether government workers had been derelict in their duty, showed favoritism, or otherwise undermined the law.

The group is made up of leading officials from the State Administration of Work Safety, State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, National Energy Administration, Ministry of Supervision, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions and the Sichuan provincial government.

"There had been no major industrial accidents in Panzhihua for five years. As a result, vigilance had been lax in terms of work safety," said Panzhihua Mayor Zhang Yan.

On Sunday, a leading group of coal mine safety inspectors established themselves in the city. Thirty-three leading officials are heading 33 inspection teams to conduct a month-long safety production inspection.

Telephone numbers for people to report safety concerns will be available via the media. All 103 coal mines in the city have suspended operations.

"Mines which fail to meet safety requirements will be closed," Zhang said.

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