Seventeen people are understood to have died and at least 10 remain trapped following a coal mine explosion in northern China. Four miners were resuced after the explosion and 31 people in total were understood to have been working underground when the blast happened.
The Chifeng city government in China’s Inner Mongolia region says four miners have been resuced, but more remain trapped. The Xinhua News Agency reported that 17 people had died and rescuers were continuing to try to reach the 10 people who had been trapped at the Baoma Mining Co mine.
Reports coming from the scene have so far been mixed, with some saying that 19 people are trapped and that a 100 workers had escaped the explosion.
The Chinese mining industry have long faced criticism for poor safety standards. The industry is among the most deadly to work in and health and safety officials say corners are sometimes cut due to financial constraints.
The latest blast follows another in Heilongjiang in North East China, when 21 miners died after they were trapped for four days after an explosion went up in the unlicensed mine they were working in. So far, four people have been arrested in connection with that disaster. In another accident, 33 people were killed at a gas explosion at a coal mine in Chongqing in the South West at the start of October.
Coal accounts for nearly two-third of China’s energy consumption, but its mines are among the most dangerous in the world. The country’s government has now ordered that a safety overhaul should be carried out in all of the coal mines across China.
As China is ramping up coal production to cope with demand over the winter months, concerns have been mounting about the safety of miners. This latest accident follows the famous incident of the 33 Chilean miners who survived underground for 69 days before rescuers could reach them.