Toll in China coal mine disaster rises to 20

Toll in China coal mine disaster rises to 20

The death toll from a gas explosion in an illegal coal mine in northern China has risen to 20 with the discovery of another body.

The updated toll leaves just one more miner unaccounted for in the disaster in Shanxi province, in which rescue efforts were hampered by the mine owner’s attempts to cover it up, Xinhua news agency reported late on Thursday.

The report said rescue officials were not officially notified of the disaster until 44 hours after it occurred on Sunday night.

It did not say when the latest body was recovered.

Authorities initially learned of the accident through other people with knowledge of the mine.

Eleven people have been arrested for their links to the accident, including Wang Junjun, the owner of the Miaojiang coal mine.

Authorities said the mine had been operating illegally because it had disobeyed a government order to merge with a nearby colliery, a move that was intended to improve work safety practices.

China’s coal mines are regarded as the most dangerous in the world, with 4,746 workers dying in 2,845 accidents last year, according to official figures.

Independent labour groups put the death toll at as many as 20,000 miners annually, as mine operators often cover up accidents to avoid costly shutdowns and fines.

Source: AFp via Yahoo News

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