A gas blast in a northeast China coal mine killed 28 people, authorities said yesterday, according to state media, the latest incident to damage the industry’s notoriously poor safety record.
Thirteen others were rescued after the accident on Friday at Babao Coal Mine in the city of Baishan in Jilin Province, Xinhua news agency cited a spokesperson with the provincial work safety and supervision bureau as saying.
The injuries of the 13 were not life-threatening, the spokesperson said, according to Xinhua.
Rescue work has finished at the mine and the cause of the accident is under investigation, the spokesperson said.
The accident occurred on the same day as a huge landslide in Tibet which buried 83 workers in a gold mining area, state media said.
China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 percent of its growing energy needs.
However, its mines are among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency.
Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.
An accident at a coal mine in southwest China killed 21 miners earlier this month, state media said.
Fifty-eight had managed to get to the surface safely after the coal and gas outburst at the Machang coal mine in Guizhou Province, Xinhua said.
An explosion at the Shangchang Coal Mine in the southwest Yunnan Province left 17 people dead in December last year, while a month earlier, 23 people were killed in a gas explosion in a coal mine in Guizhou Province, which borders Yunnan.
In August last year, seven people died in a coal mine accident in the city of Jilin, which is located in China’s northern industrial rustbelt.
The Chinese State Administration of Work Safety last year said it would close more than 600 small coal mines, which are considered more dangerous than the larger mines.
Efforts to improve safety in China’s coal mines have seen the numbers of accidents decrease in recent years. Official figures show 1,384 died in coal mine accidents in China last year, sharply down from 1,973 people in 2011.
Labor rights groups say the actual death toll is likely to be higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.
Zhang Dejiang (張德江), a leading Chinese politician who currently sits on the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, previously said coal mine accidents “ring the alarm, warning us that accident prevention is a complex, difficult and urgent task.”