25 dead in coal mine blaze; owners flee

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-14 07:14

LINGSHI, Shanxi Province: Twenty-five people have been confirmed dead and nine others are missing after a deadly coal mine fire in North China's Shanxi Province.

Thirty-six miners were working underground when privately made explosives stored in a pit of the Nanshan Colliery in Wangyu Village, Lingshi County, caught fire at 7:40 pm on Sunday, sources with rescue headquarters confirmed Monday.

Two miners survived but 25 others were suffocated by poisonous gas released by the explosives, according to rescuers.

"The missing are not likely to survive as rescuers saw flames in the tunnels," Gong Anku, head of the provincial work safety administration, said at the site.

"We plan to pump water into the tunnel to put out the fire," said Feng Kaicheng, deputy head of Lingshi County and head of the rescue operation.

Most of the miners are migrant workers from East China's Shandong Province and Southwest China's Sichuan Province and their families are on their way to the coal mine, according to Gong.

Police are searching for several coal mine managers, including the head of the mine Geng Runyu, who fled following the accident.

"They ran away without reporting the accident to the local government, which delayed the rescue operation," said Feng, adding the Lingshi County government received its first report of the accident at 4 am yesterday.

The licence of the village-owned Nanshan Colliery, with an annual production capacity of 90,000 tons, expired more than six months ago.

Also yesterday, the death toll in another deadly accident in the coal-rich province climbed to 35, with 12 others missing in the pit of Jiaojiazhai Colliery in Xinzhou, where a gas blast trapped 47 on November 5.

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