Sat, May 27, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Toxic fumes kill eight in Xinjiang mine disaster

AP , SHANGHAI

Toxic fumes in a northwestern China mine killed eight people, state media said yesterday, the latest tragedy to strike the country's lethally chaotic mining industry.

The miners apparently suffocated on smoke from explosives detonated early on Thursday morning as part of underground excavations at the lead-zinc mine in the northwestern Xinjiang region's Shanshan County, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Miners were sent back underground just two hours after the blast before the fumes had time to clear, the report said.

Such practices are a frequent cause of deaths in Chinese mines where managers sacrifice safety to boost production. Miners, usually unskilled migrant workers from the countryside, say they're routinely threatened with dismissal unless they return to work when told.

The report said rescue efforts were continuing, but didn't indicate whether any other miners were missing.

The deaths come as workers in northern China continued efforts to pump water from a flooded coal mine in Shanxi Province where at leasst 57 miners are missing and believed dead -- China's biggest mining accident this year.

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