20 Dead, 17 Missing in China Coal Mine Blast

VOA News

Chinese officials say an explosion in a coal mine Saturday killed at least 20 workers and trapped about 17 underground.

The state work safety agency said the mine in the central province of Henan was hit by an explosion at 6 a.m. (2200 UTC Friday) in a pit owned by the Pingyu Coal & Electric Company based in Yuzhou City.

The official Xinhua news agency said rescue efforts are under way.

More than 2,600 people died in mining accidents in China last year.  That was down from previous years, but officials say there were more deaths in mine accidents in the first six months of 2010 than in the same period last year.

On Thursday, a new regulation came into effect requiring mine supervisors to go underground with workers or to pay large fines.  Companies could be fined up to $750,000 for not complying with the new rule.

Premier Wen Jiabao ordered mine managers in July to begin spending time in the shafts with workers in an effort to make the bosses more aware of safety issues.  However, Chinese state media have reported cases of managers appointing substitutes in order to avoid Mr. Wen’s order.

State media reported Thursday that China has shut down more than 1,500 small, illegal coal mines this year as part of an effort to improve safety standards.

No comments yet - you can be the first!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.