Deadly explosion kills 42 miners in NE China colliery, 66 still missing

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang (1st R) visits an injured miner at a hospital in Hegang City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, on Nov. 21, 2009. The death toll of a gas outburst accident in a coal mine in Hegang City has risen to 42 while 66 other miners were still missing.

HARBIN, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) — A gas explosion in a coal mine in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has killed 42 miners and left 66 missing, said Zhang Jinguang, a spokesman with the rescue headquarters. He said the gas outburst in Xinxing Coal Mine, owned by the Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group, in Hegang City, happened 400 meters underground. Rescuers were still searching for the missing.

Pan Xiaowen, deputy director of the Hegang Mining Bureau Hospital, said that the hospital has taken in 29 injured miners from the accident.

“Six of them were seriously injured,” he said, adding all of the hospital’s 800 medical workers have joined in the rescue work.


Rescuers are about to go down the coal mine in Hegang City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, on Nov. 21, 2009.


Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang visited the hospital Saturday afternoon, and urged medical workers to do their utmost to save the injured miners.

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have also made instructions on the rescue work.

Wang Xingang, one of the injured miners in the hospital, had injuries on the head.

The 27-year-old electrician said he was lashed out by a strong blast when he was entering the mine.

“I passed out for a while. I found I was shrouded by heavy smoke, when I regained consciousness. I groped my way out in the dark, and called for help,” he said.

Wang Chaojun, Wang Xingang’s father, a 50-year-old carpenter working in the mine for 33 years told Xinhua that the mine had never reported any accidents before.


Relatives of coal miners come to the accident site to wait for further information in the Xinxing Coal Mine owned by the Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group in Hegang City, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Nov. 21, 2009. (Xinhua/Fang Baoshu)


Yang Chunfeng, head nurse in the surgery department of the hospital, said she had worked for more than 12 hours to rescue the miners.

The mining company has confirmed that 528 miners were working underground, when the explosion occurred at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday. Among them, 415 have escaped the accident.

The mine is located over 400 km east of the provincial capital of Harbin.

The Hegang subsidiary of Longmei is a state-owned mining company with an annual coal output of 12 million tonnes. Its mining area has a verified coal reserve of 3 billion tonnes.


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