21 dead, 12 trapped in China mine accidents

BEIJING — Twenty-one people were killed and 12 others were trapped in two coal mine accidents in China, officials and state media said Tuesday, in the latest incidents to hit the industry.

An explosion rocked a colliery Tuesday in the southwestern province of Guizhou, killing 12 and trapping five, the state Xinhua news agency said.

Sixty miners were working underground when the accident happened in Renhuai city, but 43 managed to escape or were saved, it added.

Late Monday, nine workers were killed and seven trapped when deadly gas leaked into a pit at the Sanyuandong coal mine in Dengfeng city in central Henan province, the State Work Safety Administration said in a statement.

A total of 127 miners were in the pit at the time, but 111 of them were quickly brought to safety, Xinhua reported, citing an official with the Zhengzhou Coal Industry Co. Ltd., which owns the colliery.

The mine manager was sacked and the company’s chief engineer suspended after the incident.

Rescuers have been unable to enter the mine in Dengfeng because of the high concentration of gas in the pit and chances of survival for the seven missing were slim, Xinhua quoted emergency worker Yu Haisen as saying.

The Henan provincial government declined immediate comment on the fate of the missing miners. AFP’s calls to the company were not answered.

China’s vast coal mining industry is plagued by lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency, as mines rush to meet soaring energy demand.

At the weekend, 24 miners were trapped in a flooded pit in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, while 17 others were killed in an explosion at a mine in the northern province of Shanxi, China’s coal-producing heartland.

Last year 2,631 miners were killed in China, according to official figures, but independent labour groups say the actual figure could be much higher as many accidents are covered up to avoid costly shutdowns.

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