CHINA / Regional

Death toll in mining accidents hits 68
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-18 06:53

Explosions and floods have killed at least 68 coal miners in four accidents in Shanxi, Hunan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces since Saturday, work safety authorities said yesterday.

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) has warned all mines to strengthen production safety measures in the disaster-prone rainy season.

In North China's Shanxi Province, rescuers have found the bodies of 49 miners but eight remain trapped, after a coal mine blast on Saturday at Linjiazhuang Coal Mine in Lingshi County, near Jinzhong.

There were 64 miners working underground when the tragedy happened. Only six miners escaped, while another suffering carbon-monoxide poisoning was rescued early on Sunday, said An Zhenlu, the county's chief media officer.

Initial investigations showed that the coal dust explosion in the colliery, whose work safety certificate was suspended at the end of last year, was triggered by an unauthorized explosion in an adjacent mine, reports said.

Further investigations are underway and rescuers are still trying to reach the trapped miners.

The municipal government of Jinzhong immediately launched a crackdown on all illegal mines, urging all mining activities to be performed in line with strict safety rules.

The coal mine promised yesterday to compensate the families of dead workers with at least 200,000 yuan (US$25,000) each.

In Central China's Hunan Province, at least 14 people drowned after a flash flood in Shenjiawan Coal Mine, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

After days of rainfall, flood water from Leihe in southern Hunan and a nearby reservoir swarmed into the pit on Saturday

Seven rescuers were dispatched to search for a miner underground but they were also trapped by rising waters, reports said. The six other deaths were local residents above ground.

Also on Saturday, a flood trapped 18 miners at Pianpoyuan coal mine, a township colliery, in Anshun in Southwest China's Guizhou Province, reports said.

Meanwhile in Sichuan's Junlian County, a severe gas explosion at Lilan Coal Mine killed five miners and injured 34 on Sunday evening, reports said.

By press time, rescue efforts were ongoing and production had been suspended.

(China Daily 07/18/2006 page2)