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23 miners died and 53 sickened in Shanxi state-owned coal mine

Twenty-three miners were killed and 53 others sickened by carbon monoxide at a gas explosion in a state-owned coal mine in Shanxi Province in northern China.

A total of 697 miners were working in the pit when the blast went off at the Sihe Coal Mine under the state-owned Jincheng Mining Group on the evening of 1 February.

Citing an official of the provincial coal mine safety supervision bureau, a Xinhua report said search and rescue work at the mine had ended on the morning of 2 February. The sickened miners were hospitalized and most of them suffered no fatal injury, except for one miner who was seriously poisoned by carbon monoxide.

A preliminary investigation showed that the explosion occurred at an airtight area in the pit. Sihe Coal Mine, one of the largest collieries in the coal-rich Shanxi Province, currently produces 10.8 million tons of coal per year.

China's coal mining industry is the most dangerous in the world, as mine owners and local government officials always ignore safety standards in search of quick profits. Coal accounts for 70 percent of the country's energy production and needs, according to government statistics.

Last month, the State Administration of Work Safety reported that 5,986 coal miners died in 2005.

Source: Xinhua News Agency (2 February 2006), Agence France-Presse (2 February 2006)

2 February 2006