Death toll rises to 37 after last miners found dead in central China mine

October 19th, 2010 - 6:50 pm ICT by BNO News  

YUZHOU, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — The death toll from a gas leak at a central China coal mine on Saturday has risen to 37, the government said, concluding recovery operations at the site.

The accident happened at around 6 a.m. local time on Saturday at a Pingyu Coal & Electric Co. Ltd.-owned coal mine in Yuzhou City of central China’s Henan Province. A total of 276 miners were working underground at the time of the accident.

All but 37 of the miners were able to escape safely after the accident, according to the country’s State Administration of Work Safety. The bodies of most of them, 20, were recovered within several hours but it took several days more to retrieve the other bodies.

According to a preliminary investigation, workers at the mine were taking measures to prevent or contain a gas leak at the site when the accident happened. Rescue operations following the accident were being hampered by a high concentration of gas underground.

Meanwhile, authorities in China have ordered a full scale investigation of the accident, which was the second deadly accident to take place at the mine. On August 1, 2008, 23 workers were killed after an explosion at the mine.

Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years, but they remain among the world’s most dangerous with around 2,600 fatalities in 2009 alone.

On October 8, nine people were killed, including a rescue team, when they suffocated to death in a disused air shaft at a lead zinc ore mine in central China.

According to mining officials, two workers in charge of equipment removal at the mine in Hunan Province were overcome by a lack of oxygen. An eight-member rescue team was soon sent in to help but all died from a lack of oxygen. Another rescue team eventually found one of the two workers alive.

In November 2009, 104 miners were killed after several explosions at a coal mine in China’s Heilongjiang province.

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