Gas blast traps 35 coal miners in northwest China

Gas blast traps 35 coal miners in northwest China

BEIJING – A gas explosion trapped 35 workers underground on Tuesday at a coal mine in northwest China, Xinhua news agency said, the latest accident to hit the world’s deadliest mining industry.

The blast occurred at the Weijiadi coal mine in Baiyin city in Gansu, an underdeveloped province hosting part of the Gobi Desert, Xinhua said, adding that rescue operations were under way.

“Thirty-nine miners were working underground, and four of them escaped unhurt,” the news agency quoted Wang Jun, general manager of the Jingyuan Coal Industry Corporation, as saying.

China is struggling to meet booming demand for coal, which fuels about 70 percent of its energy consumption.

In the rush for profits, safety regulations are often ignored, production is pushed beyond limits and dangerous mines that have been shut down are reopened illegally.

Last year, 3,300 coal mine blasts, floods and other accidents killed nearly 6,000 people, according to official figures.

Despite a 23 percent decline in the death toll for the first nine months of 2006 compared with the year-ago period, 3,284 coal miners have died in more than 2,000 accidents through September.


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