Death toll in latest Chinese coal mine blast rises to 11, taking week’s total fatalities to 64

Officials have confirmed that four miners missing since Monday’s gas explosion in a coal mine in central China have died, bringing the total number of fatalities in the blast to 11, mainland media reported.

The blast in Hubei province was the third major mining accident within a week in the country – the world’s top producer and consumer of coal – and brings the total number of deaths in the three accidents to 64, Xinhua news agency reported.

Up to 46 miners had been working underground at the time of Monday’s blast at 8pm at Xinjia Coal Mine in Badong county.

Of the 16 miners that were working at the coalface at the time, five men managed to escape, but 11 were left trapped after the shaft collapsed.

On Wednesday, rescue workers had recovered the bodies of seven of the trapped miners.

Xinhua said seven of the dead killed in Monday’s blast had come from Henan province, with two from Shandong and one each from Shaanxi and Sichuan provinces.

Badong county government, which is still investigating the cause of the tragedy, has also ordered a safety overhaul and suspended all mine production in the county.

Beijing announced the firings of safety officials after a blast on December 3 in Inner Mongolia, which killed 32 people, and the arrests of mine operators after 21 miners were confirmed dead four days after a blast at a mine in Heilongjiang province.

The accidents came as national safety regulators issued a warning to all coal mines last week not to be operating beyond their daily capacity in the wake of rising coal prices.

An accident at an “illegal” mine in Liaoning province killed at least 11 people in July. Two months later another accident occurred in Ningxia, killing at least 18 miners.

On October 31 an explosion at a small mine in Chongqing killed 33 workers, according to the nation’s production safety watchdog.


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