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Mine disaster traps 11 workers

  |   Sept. 10, 2012 at 2:21 AM
BEIJING, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A gas and coal burst struck a coal mine in southwestern China, trapping 11 miners, the third such disaster in the past two weeks, authorities said.

The Sunday morning disaster was reported in the Yongsheng coal mine in Wanyuan city in Sichuan province.

Xinhua News Agency, quoting the rescue headquarters, said the positions of the 11 trapped miners had been determined but efforts to rescue them were progressing slowly because of the high density of toxic gas and dust in the underground mine.

The incident follows two recent deadly disasters in which a total of at least 58 miners died.

In the Sunday incident, 24 people were working underground at the time of the blast, but rescuers lifted 13 of them to safety. Of those rescued, five were injured, including two who were poisoned by gas. Hospitals said none of the injuries was life-threatening, Xinhua reported.

The rescue headquarters said an initial investigation blamed a coal and gas burst for the incident, but other details were not available.

Xinhua said police had arrested the mine owners and were investigating the incident's cause.

Late last month, in the same province, a coal mine gas explosion killed 45 miners. A few days later, a similar explosion in the Gaokeng coal mine in eastern Jiangxi province killed at least 13 people.

The official news agency said an initial investigation of those two disasters indicated chaotic management and ignorance of mine safety rules in the mines.

Coal mine accidents in China take a heavy toll every year despite stringent safety regulations. Official figures showed gas explosions alone were responsible for 41 coal mine accidents this year as of July, resulting in the deaths of 149 miners. Other mine accidents have claimed dozens more lives.

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