At Least 21 Dead after Collapse at Gold Mine in Southern China
At least 21 miners were killed after a collapse at a gold mine in southern China, the latest in a spate of disasters to hit the country's notoriously unsafe mining industry, officials said Wednesday.
The accident in the mine near Baisi city occurred on Monday when 24 miners were working underground, a spokesman at the rescue command post told AFP.
"We have dug all of them out, but only three survived," he said.
Rescue operations began immediately after the collapse and were completed Wednesday morning, he said.
The mine collapsed because too many tunnels had been dug into Dragon Mountain, the site of the excavation, a report on the Sina.com website said.
China has been hit by a flurry of similar disasters, with over 500 deaths reported in the state press since late September, when 160 miners were killed in the Shuicheng mine in Guizhou province.
In past two weeks alone 51 miners had been confirmed dead in a gas explosion in the Tianlong coal mine in northern Shanxi province, while some 40 miners died in another explosion at the Hulunbuer mine in Inner Mongolia. Scores of others have been reported killed in smaller accidents.
Beijing announced plans this year to shut 18,900 coalmines and cut production by 120 million tons in a bid to rescue the ailing industry and improve its appalling safety record.
China is the world's biggest coal producer and consumer.
Independent industrial analysts estimate mine deaths top 10,000 annually, with many not being reported in the state press.
The most recent official figures showed mining accidents killed 7,423 people in China in 1998, while 3,464 died in the first nine months of 1999 -- BEIJING (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)