/ 21 September 2008

Dozens dead from gas inhalation in China coal mine

Thirty-seven miners died from gas inhalation in a coal mine in central China early on Sunday, state media said, in the latest disaster to hit the country’s notoriously deadly mining industry.

The deaths occurred in the pre-dawn hours in a coal mine near the city of Dengfeng in Henan province, Xinhua news agency said.

The report said 108 miners had been underground at the time of the ”gas outburst”. Sixty-four of them escaped, and seven others were later rescued.

China’s coal mines are among the most dangerous in the world, with safety standards often ignored in the quest for profits and the drive to meet surging demand for coal — the source of about 70% of the country’s energy.

Nearly 3,800 people died in Chinese coal mines last year, according to official figures, although independent monitors say the real figure is probably much higher as many accidents are covered up.

Five miners were confirmed dead and at least 26 others were trapped when a fire broke out Saturday in a coal mine in north-eastern China, the official China News Service reported earlier.

That accident occurred in the city of Hegang in Heilongjiang province.

The local work safety authority had not posted an update on that accident on its website on Sunday. – AFP