The death toll in a mine explosion in Pingdingshan, Henan Province has reached 56. There were only 14 survivors.
Thus far, over twenty officials and nine supervisors have been dismissed from their posts. Local officials claimed the Xinhua Fourth Mine in Pingdingshan was operating illegally.
BBCchinese.com also reported that 36 miners were still missing. Rescue workers are still working at the scene, but they say the gas explosion had severely damaged the mine shaft and a high concentration of deadly gases were released.
Chief of the Henan Province Administration of Work Safety, Zhang Guohui said earlier that operations to clean up the aftermath had already begun, and that family members of the deceased and missing miners were “emotionally stable.” He also stated that some seriously wounded victims were still in the hospital undergoing critical medical treatment.
Several employees of the Xinhua Fourth Mine, including the CEO, one security manager, and one production manager were taken into police custody. Local police said they were detained on the grounds of “negligently causing a serious accident.”
A number of local officials in charge of the area where the mining company is located were also dismissed from their posts, including the Deputy District Chief of the Xinhua District and an official of the Pingdingshan Coal Mining Bureau.
The Pingdingshan City authorities also requested that the prosecutor investigate three officials who were responsible for monitoring work safety in the Xinhua Fourth Mine.
The Xinhua Fourth Mine had been going through a maintenance and repair phase and had not been approved to reopen for operation. A
China currently accounts for the largest number of coal mining fatalities, accounting for about 70 percent of the world’s total, although it produces only 37 percent of the world’s coal.
In 2008, 3,210 were killed in coal mining incidents in China.
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