A gas explosion at a coal mine in China’s Sichuan Province killed at least two dozen miners and left more than 20 trapped underground, state media said, underscoring the precarious working conditions in the country’s mines, which are considered among the deadliest in the world.
As of Thursday evening, 26 miners were confirmed dead by Chinese-regime mouthpiece Xinhua, while another 21 are still trapped in the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua City. It is among the worst coal mining-related disasters to hit China this year.
Around 120 miners were working in the mine when an explosion rattled the facility, the report said. As of early Thursday morning, approximately 70 workers were lifted from the mine, which was described by state media as a “gas-filled pit,” and were sent to nearby hospitals; three died in medical care.
“The shaft of the mine has been severely destroyed, making our rescue work very hard,” a rescuer, Li Hua, told Xinhua.
The miners were trapped in a chamber where temperatures reached 175 degrees to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, state media said, adding there was an especially dense buildup of carbon monoxide.
A survivor of the blast, Xu Changyong, said, “I heard the crackling sound of an explosion at that time but didn’t feel the shockwave. What came out of the air compressor was not fresh air but ash, and soon my workmates and I got headaches.”
Several owners of the mine were taken into police custody and an investigation is underway.
The mine is located around 500 miles southwest of Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu.
Around 2,000 people died in coal mining disasters in China last year, with the accidents being blamed on poor safety standards, according to the South China Morning Post, citing government data. There are an estimated 12,000 coal mines in the country.
More than 50,000 coal miners were killed in the past decade alone, reported The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Rescue workers told The Global Times, a newspaper run by the Communist Party-controlled People’s Daily, that they are still looking for three miners who went missing 18 days after a gas explosion rocked a coal mine in the city of Baishan, located in northeastern China. Seventeen were killed in the blast.
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