Coal mine explosion kills 33 in north China
Rescue workers have found the remains of 33 miners killed in a gas explosion taking place Thursday afternoon at a small colliery in Yangyuan City of Shanxi Province, north China, an official said Friday.
After the explosion, 38 of the miners were hoisted to the ground, 28 miners
were found dead and five others remained missing.
Production halted for safety checks
The move is aimed to find all hidden safety loopholes and prevent re-occurrence of similar accidents, according to the city government.
Yangquan Coal Industry Group, a large state-owned enterprise in the northern China city, is an exception.
A special group has been set up to investigate the cause of the tragedy.
Daxian Sankeng Colliery, which is operated by Nanlou Township Industry Group
of Yuxian County, Yangquan City, is a legal coal production business capable of
producing 150,000 tons of coal a year.
A gas explosion in October killed 148 miners in central China's Henan province.
"It is a problem of mine management and a lack of safety awareness," An Yuanjie, propaganda director for the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, told AFP.
"Over-production exceeding mine capacity, especially in the small mines where there is already a lack of safety facilities, as well as inadequate investment in safety infrastructure, these are all the reasons that are causing these coal mine disasters.
"As the national administration of work safety we need to strengthen our efforts to supervise these mines," she said.
Experts blame most accidents in China's mines not just on poor safety but the failure to enforce regulations.
The government said it closed down 60,000 small mines in the last decade because they were considered unsafe and inefficient, but soaring demand has led to many being reopened.
As well as safety concerns, China's miners have to deal with health issues.
According to recent state media reports, about 600,000 miners suffer from pneumoconiosis, a disease of the lungs caused by inhalation of dust. The figure is increasing by some 70,000 miners every year, Xinhua news agency said.
China depends on coal for 70 percent of its energy and has significantly increased production in the past year to meet the demands of rapid industrialization.
More than 7,000 workers are killed each year in China's coal mines,
considered the world's most dangerous.
"After major accidents occur, new measueres will be taken," An said.