Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Managers sacked after China blast


Rescuers workered tirelessly to save trapped miners

Three senior officials have been sacked at a coal mine in the northern Chinese province of Shanxi after an explosion that killed 74 workers.

Tunlan mine's chief, its top engineer and the official in charge of safety were dismissed, state media reported.

All trapped miners have been rescued and an investigation is under way into Sunday's blast - China's worst mine disaster in a year, Xinhua said.

China has the world's deadliest mining industry, with 3,200 deaths last year.

There were 436 men at work when the explosion ripped through the mine at about 0220 local time on Sunday - but most managed to escape, Xinhua reported.

Feb 1950: Yiluo mine, Henan province - 174 dead
May 1960: Laobaidong mine, Shanxi province - 684 dead
Sept 2000: Muchonggou mine, Guizhou province - 162 dead
Nov 2004: Chenjiashan mine, Shaanxi province - 166 dead
Feb 2005: Sunjiawan mine, Liaoning province - 210 dead
Nov 2005: Dongfeng mine, Heilongjiang - 171 dead
Aug 2007: Xintai City, Shandong province - 181 dead
Dec 2007: Rui Zhiyuan mine, Shanxi province - 105 dead
Some 114 miners remain in hospital, with five in a critical condition.

Most of the injured were being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, said doctors in Gujiao city.

Exposure to the gas, which is odourless and colourless, is potentially fatal.

The cause of the blast is under investigation but initial reports suggested it was a gas explosion.

The mine belongs to the state-run Shanxi Coking Group, China's largest producer of coking coal, and had had an excellent safety record until now.

'Safety improving'

The BBC's James Reynolds in Beijing says the accident comes as little surprise to the mining community.


China's mines are the most dangerous in the world and often money takes priority over safety because mines are vital to China's economy, with two-thirds of its energy needs fuelled by coal, our correspondent says.

The government has promised for years to improve mine safety, and one report said more than 1,000 illegal mines were closed last year.

Beijing says safety is improving, with the official death toll from coal mining accidents falling by 15% in 2008 compared with the previous year.

Xinhua also reported that the number of accidents had fallen by 19% to 413,700 last year.

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