Coal mine floods in northern China: 12,000 mines ordered to close

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Update November 21, 2005: All of the 14 miners missing were confirmed dead on Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Seven miners have been killed and seven more are missing after a coal mine flooded in north China's Hebei province. The Xinhua news agency reports the latest coal mine disaster occurred around 5:00 a.m. on Saturday in Xingtai City.

A reason for the accident has not yet been given. Owners of the coal mine have been detained by local police and the investigation into the cause of the flooding is underway. State media reports say the disaster occurred at a pit in Xingtai City, but gave few other details.

China's mines, many of them illegal, are considered the world's most dangerous. More than 6,000 miners died in accidents in China last year, according to previously released government figures. Other independent estimates put the real figure at around 20,000.

Saturday's accident follows a gas explosion at a coal mine in south-western China's Guizhou province on Friday killing at least ten people.

Xinhua reports that rescue work is underway, according to the local work safety supervision bureau. A spokesman said Yuanda Coal Mine, a collectively-owned mine in Neiqiu county of Xingtai, was flooded and all the 14 miners working down the pit were trapped.

This is the second fatal mine accident in the area in two weeks. Cave-ins at three plaster mines on November 6 caused 33 deaths and left at least four missing.

Government orders closure of 12,000 mines

A committee for safe production, under the State Council, on Sunday urged relevant local governments to streamline the operation of mines and close unqualified ones.

More than 12,000 Chinese mines have been ordered to suspend production, and they will be closed if they fail to pass government assessments at the end of this year, the committee said.

A gas explosion on November 11 at a mine in Wuhai, a city in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, killed 16 miners and wounded three others. The mine lacked a required safety license.

The committee said in a statement that other mines should draw serious lessons from the deadly accident and "steadfastly prevent illegal production and curb the occurrence of big mining accidents." (Source: Xinhua)

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