JINZHONG: Rescuers on Tuesday recovered the bodies of three workers missing since a gas blast the day before in a coal mine in Shanxi Province, bringing the death toll to 14.
The rescue headquarters called off the 32-hour rescue operation after the bodies were lifted to the ground at 7:20 pm.
Rescuers could not get into the shaft until huge amount of blast debris was cleared from the entrance and a 300-meter-long pipe was forced into the pit to increase ventilation at about 6:30 pm.
The explosion took place at the entrance of a mine shaft under construction at the Xingguang Coal Industry Co. Ltd. in Heshun County in Jinzhong City at about 11:10 am Monday, when 16 people were working in the area. Two, who were more than 100 meters from the entrance, escaped unharmed.
The 16 workers came from a coal mine construction company based in Xingtai City in neighboring Hebei Province.
The shaft was being renovated and enlarged before going into operation.
Guo Xingchuan, assistant county head in charge of the coal sector, was dismissed from his post Monday.
Police were questioning five people, two directly in charge of construction at the colliery and three from the Hebei Company.
The county government said it would work with the two companies to compensate families of the victims, but the amount of compensation had not been fixed yet.
The provincial government of Shanxi is setting a team to investigate the accident.
The mine, with reserves of 203 million tonnes, belongs to the Shanxi International Electricity Group Limited Company, which began infrastructure construction in May to increase annual production to 1.2 million tonnes from 300,000 tonnes.