33 dead in SW China colliery gas explosion

Rescuers work at Jinshangou Coal Mine in Yongchuan District of Chongqing, southwest China, Nov. 1, 2016. Photo: Xinhua

Thirty-three people were confirmed dead in a colliery explosion in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality as the bodies of 15 missing miners were retrieved early Wednesday morning.

More than 80 rescuers found the bodies in a pit at Jinshangou Coal Mine, Yongchuan District, at around 2 a.m. and lifted them out of the shaft two hours later, according to the local rescue headquarters.

A total of 35 workers were in the pit at the time of the accident just after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. Two miners survived Monday's explosion but rescuers working around the clock found no others alive.

The State Administration of Work Safety ordered an investigation into the blast, "adding that those responsible must be strictly punished." Local officials in Chongqing also ordered smaller mines to shut down temporarily, Xinhua said. Local governmental workers are identifying the dead and handling the aftermath.

Gas explosions inside mines are often caused when a flame or electrical spark ignites gas leaking from the coal seam. Ventilation systems are supposed to prevent gas from becoming trapped.

Preliminary investigations show the mine exceeded its mining boundaries, had insufficient and malfunctioning equipment, poor ventilation and disorderly management.

China’s mining industry has long been among the world’s deadliest. The head of the State Administration of Work Safety said earlier this year that struggling coal mines might be likely to overlook maintenance.

China is the world’s largest producer and consumer of coal but plans to shutter more than 1,000 outdated mines as part of a broader plan to reduce overproduction.


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