A miner rescued in Henan on November 5 after 40 hours under ground. Image via ChinaNews.
At least 23 coal miners remain trapped beneath the surface at the Sizhuang Coal Mine in Yunnan province’s city of Qujing due to a gas eruption at around 6:30 a.m on Thursday that killed 20. Local rescue operations are currently underway but are marred by a hazardous gas leak.
The disaster marks another disheartening blow for China’s miners and the rescue workers who, less than week ago, valiantly pulled 52 from a mine in Henan province after a cave-in that proved fatal for 10 others.
Unfortunately, mining catastrophes that rival even the nail-biting saga of the Chilean miners last October are frighteningly commonplace in China, whose coal mines rank as the deadliest in the world.
Official figures reveal that in the last decade, 47,676 people died as a result of Chinese coal mine-related calamities while an unofficial estimate puts the death toll at well over 100,000!
In fact just this past year, Chinese coal mine accidents claimed 2,423 lives. And the scariest part is that this mind-blowing number of annual fatalities is a third of what it was just ten years ago.
While the government may deserve a pat on the back for drastically reducing the number of mining casualties, the recent mining disasters indicate that a coal-carrier’s-load of work remains to be done. Cutting corners to satisfy China’s immense coal craving reportedly runs rampant in the mining industry and includes paying inspectors to ignore illegal and negligent operations.
Like many issues in China’s booming economy, the problem stems from taking shortcuts to increase productivity, which can harbor especially dire consequences in the mining industry, the proclaimed “most dangerous job on earth.”
Read more on mining from Shanghaiist here.