China coal mine explosion traps 29 workers

China coal mine explosion traps 29 workers

An explosion in a coal mine in eastern China Tuesday left 29 workers trapped underground, but 12 have already been rescued relatively unharmed.

According to state-run news agency Xinhua rescuers were having difficulty reaching the trapped miners Tuesday morning as the blast caused part of a tunnel to collapse.

The cause of the blast, occurred at 3:58 a.m, remains unclear, with several reports claiming the privately-owned Dongfang Coal Mine had not acted on a month-old order from the municipal government that called all mines to suspend production because of the flood season.

China, which is the world’s largest consumer of coal, has seen some of the world's worst mining disasters, although the safety record has been improving in recent years since regulators began enforcing safety rules more strongly.

Deadly figures

Last year alone 1,049 people were killed or went missing in mining-related accidents in the nation, according to figures from the State Administration of Work Safety, down from a high of 6,995 in 2002. In comparison, 52 people were killed over the last decade in US coal mining disasters, according to the US National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

It is estimated that more than 3,000 workers die in Chinese mines every year, mostly at coal operations.

One of the worst mining accidents registered in the country happened a year ago, when a landslide that displaced as much as 2 million cubic meters of earth and rubble killed 83 people in a mining area of the Tibet region.

Image from archives.