China coal mine accident kills 15, injures 3

CHINA, February 16, 2012 (AFP) – Fifteen miners died and another three were injured after a tramcar derailed in a coal mine in central China, authorities said Thursday, in the latest accident to hit the nation’s mining sector.

The incident happened at a pit near Leiyang city in Hunan province in the early hours of Thursday morning, China’s work safety administration said in a statement.

Local officials told AFP rescue efforts were still under way.

Accidents are common in China’s vast coal mining sector where work safety is often neglected by bosses seeking a quick profit.

Latest figures show that 2,433 people died in coal mining accidents in the country in 2010, according to official statistics — a rate of more than six workers per day.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

China’s rapid economic growth has caused demand for energy, including coal, to surge.

The Asian nation is the world’s leading consumer of coal, relying on it for 70 percent of its growing energy needs, and during the winter months mines are operating at full capacity.

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