China mine blast kills 28

A gas blast in a northeast China coal mine killed 28 people, authorities said Saturday, according to state media, the latest incident to damage the industry’s notoriously poor safety record.

Thirteen others were rescued after the accident Friday at Babao Coal Mine in the city of Baishan in Jilin province, the official Xinhua news agency cited a spokesman with the provincial work safety and supervision bureau as saying.

The injuries of the 13 were not life threatening, the spokesman said, according to Xinhua.

Rescue work has finished at the mine and the cause of the accident is under investigation, said the spokesman. The mine is a state-owned colliery under the Tonghua Mining (Group) Co., Ltd, the Xinhua report said.

The accident occurred on the same day that a huge landslide came crashing down a mountainside in Tibet, burying 83 workers in a gold mining area, state media said.

China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 percent of its growing energy needs.

But its mines are among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.

An accident at a coal mine in southwest China killed 21 miners earlier this month, state media said. Xinhua said 58 had managed to get to the surface safely after the coal and gas outburst at the Machang coal mine in Guizhou Province.

An explosion at the Shangchang Coal Mine in the southwest Yunnan province left 17 people dead last December, while a month earlier, 23 people were killed in a gas explosion in a coal mine in Guizhou province, which borders Yunnan.

Last August, seven people died in a coal mine accident in the city of Jilin, which is located in China’s northern industrial rustbelt.

The state administration of work safety said last year it would close more than 600 small coal mines, which are considered more dangerous than the larger mines.

Efforts to improve safety in China’s coal mines have seen the numbers of accidents decrease in recent years.

Official figures show 1,384 died in coal mine accidents in China in 2012, sharply down from 1,973 people in 2011.

But labour rights groups 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.

Zhang Dejiang, a leading Chinese politician who currently sits on the elite seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, previously said coal mine accidents “ring the alarm, warning us that accident prevention is a complex, difficult, and urgent task”.


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