China Reacts To 21 Deaths In Mine Explosion

A China coal mine kills 21 workers after a gas explosion, officials said Saturday. The miners were earlier reported trapped by the blast in Xinjiang region’s Changji prefecture early Friday. Twelve others escaped.

An official at the Xinjiang region’s work safety bureau said that 21 workers were confirmed dead and another one who had been trapped was injured. The official, surnamed Wang, refused to give further details and said the incident was under investigation.

China’s mines are the deadliest in the world and suffer frequent explosions, floods and cave-ins.

Such accidents are usually caused by a failure to ventilate methane gas from the shaft.

Safety improvements have reduced the number of deaths in recent years, but regulations are still often ignored.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that the mine had been ordered to suspend production in June to make safety improvements, citing the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

The country must put emphasis on preventing accidents, regularly conducting safety inspections and set up a permanent mechanism to ensure work safety, Li said at a Dec. 6 meeting of the State Council, China’s cabinet, according to a Xinhua report. His orders followed an explosion at an underground oil pipeline in eastern China on Nov. 22 that killed 62 people and left 136 injured.

The People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, published a commentary stressing the importance of safety for economic development, after the blast at the pipeline in Qingdao owned by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp.

A bridge pier collapse in the southwestern municipality of Chongqing in October which left 11 people dead was caused by “inadequate cofferdams, illegal construction and poor supervision,” Xinhua said in a Dec. 5 report.

The work safety agency said in October it investigated 21,056 complaints in the first nine months of the year.

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