This photo gallery of Chinese coal miners really puts a face on the plight of these laborers. Unsafe work conditions kill them by the hundreds every year. Thirty black and white photos by a Chinese photographer, online monicker k6688, commemorates lives lost in a 2004 coal mine accident in Henan. k6688’s photo blog is here (in Chinese).
From January 1 to November 27 this year, eight major coal mine accidents happened, killing 640. That figure likely doesn’t include this recent accident, or this one or this one (or countless other “minor” accidents). China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao have reiterated the importance of safety for China’s coal miners and urged local officials to curb the accidents, but it’s obvious words and good intentions are not enough. Important white papers have been released demanding more safety checks and the closure of illegal coal mines and those without appropriate safety facilities. Shanghaiist wonders how many coal mines that would leave our coal-hungry nation with.
Recently we heard Zhao Tiechui, head of National Bureau of Coal Mine Safety Supervision Administration, address the Dong Feng Coal Mine accidents on December 3. He said China is going to deal with problem of small coal mines by shutting down 14,000 in three years. At the moment China has 24,000 small coal mines. He also promised to cut down the numbers of serious coal mine accidents in two years. We’ll see.