A gas explosion occurred around 11 a.m. on March 6, 2007 at Hongfa coalmine in Shaodong County, Shaoyang City, Hunan Province. Thirty-two miners were underground when the accident happened. By 7 p.m. on March 8, 17 miners had escaped and 15 miners had died.
The shareholders of the coalmine and the relevant management officers fled the scene after the blast, according to Shaodong county authorities,
Reportedly, the Hongfa coal mining operation had been suspended since August 7, 2006 due to an expired coal production license and lack of a mining safety permit. However after the Chinese New Year, the shareholders of the coal mine organized maintenance in underground mine without authorization, which led to the gas explosion.
According to the on-site rescue team's preliminary analysis, poor ground conditions due to neglected maintenance, a considerable accumulation of firedamp from damaged ventilation shafts, and illegal operations on electricity system are believed to be the cause of the accident.
Currently, a technical expert team for on-site inspection is investigating the coalmine. A special report to detail the cause of the accident is still awaited.
The fifteen victims were farmers from Shaodong and neighboring Shaoyang and Xinshao counties, and one was from Guizhou Province. The two main stockholders of the Hongfa coal mine have been arrested.