The death toll from a gas explosion at a coal mine in southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan has risen to 41, with 5 people trapped, according to authorities, in one of the country’s worst mining accidents of the year.
For the record, about 154 workers were underground when the blast hit the Xiaojiawan mine in southwest China’s Sichuan province on Wednesday morning — the latest in a string of fatal incidents for an industry known for poor safety standards.
According to Panzhihua city’s official account on Sina Weibo which is China’s equivalent of Twitter, 107 miners were already rescued from the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine, most of them within an hour of the Wednesday evening gas explosion, Carbon monoxide and searing temperatures hindered rescue efforts around the area.
Emergency crews have hauled 34 bodies from the mine, while 3 workers were rescued but later died because of their injuries, stated by the official Xinhua news agency. There were 17 workers being treated for serious injuries.
Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co., Ltd is the main owner of the mine which is located at Panzhihua. The owner of the mine was taken taken into police custody, pending an investigation while rescue efforts are still ongoing, according to state media. Authorities have detained 3 mine owners and stopped the mine’s accounts and have begun discussing compensation with the victims’ families.
China has an estimated 12,000 coal mines and still, the profession remains a deadly one. They are among the world’s deadliest due to careless regulation, corruption and inefficiency. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by owners/businessman seeking quick profits.
In China last 2011 alone, the latest official figures shows that 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents, almost 19% fall on the previous year.
However, Labor rights groups stated that the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partially due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.