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Death toll rises to 51 in Heilongjiang coal mine blast
Updated: 2005-11-28 09:26

The death toll has risen to 51 in Sunday night's coal mine blast in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, said sources from the headquarters in charge the rescue.

Altogether 221 miners were working underground when the blast went off at 9:40 pm Sunday at Dongfeng Coal Mine run by the Qitaihe branch of the Longmei Mining (Group) Co Ltd, according to the provincial coal mine safety bureau.

A 126-member rescue team has been going all-out to search for the miners trapped beneath the coal mine shaft after the blast. Rescuers have saved 70 miners, of which, 48 have been hoisted to the ground, according to the rescue headquarters.

The rescuers are managing to lift the other 22 miners to the ground.

Investigators said the tragedy was caused by coal-dust explosion, which knocked out all ventilation systems in the pit. As of Monday morning, the main ventilation system resumed operation.

Longmei Group is a mining conglomerate of four state-owned major coal businesses in the province. It has a registered capitalof 13 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion).

Rescue operation is carried out swiftly for the remaining 100 miners trapped in the explosion.

Coal mine blast kills 40, traps 138

A coal mine explosion Sunday night in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has killed 40 workers, and 138 miners are still reported missing, according to a China News Service report.

Forty-two miners have managed to escape, the repor said.

The blast occurred at around 9:40 pm at Dongfeng Coal Mine run by Qitaihe branch of Heilongjiang Longmei Mining (Group) Co Ltd, the provincial coal mine safety administration said. At the time when the accident happened, 221 miners were working underground.

Rescue work is going on, and rescuers have gone into the mine pit to search and save the workers trapped underground. The first batch of 126 rescuers are working at the site, and pit ventilation system has been restored. 

Preliminary investigation found that the explosion was caused by smut blasts.

Major leaders of the province, including Governor Zhang Zuoji, have rushed to the coal mine to direct the rescue efforts.

And Li Yizhong, minister of the General Administration of Work Safety, who happened to be in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang, for the water pollution investigation, also flew to the site early Monday morning.

Longmei Group is a mining conglomerate of four state-owned major coal businesses in the northeastern province. It has a registered capital of 13 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion).

Top Leaders Call for Curbing Big Safety Accidents

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao called recently for curbing possible occurrence of big safety accidents which claim huge casualties and property losses.

Hu and Wen urged law-enforcement organs to implement stricter inspections and punish people responsible in line with laws.

Premier Wen chaired a special State Council meeting on work safety November 24, urging local governments, relevant departments and enterprises to check hidden troubles which might trigger accidents. The State Council said coal mines, chemical plants, transportation companies and fireworks factories are priorities for security overhaul from this winter to spring next year.

Since November 20, the Ministry of Public Security has taken stricter precautions against overloaded passenger cars, over-speed vehicles, drunken driving, fatigue driving and driving vehicles without registration plates. The traffic management organs will equip highways and national trunk roads with speeding sensors. The traffic police will withdraw licenses of drivers who exceed speed limit by 50 percent.

The Ministry of Education stipulated that students sports activities should be organized only inside campuses. The ministry said that sports activities in traffic routes will greatly threaten lives of students.

The Ministry of Communications will strictly overhaul major ferries, prohibiting non-passenger vessels for passenger transport.

The Bureau of Production Safety Supervision and Administration urged nationwide companies to learn lessons from the latest disastrous blast of a Jilin chemical plant and a gas leak of the Capital Iron Corp., and to carry out earnest internal safety checks.

While urging local coal mines to prevent gas explosion, the bureau will further work for close down unlicensed coal mines.

The bureau also said it will crack down on unauthorized fireworks factories.

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