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Explosion in Chinese coal mine leaves 32 dead 

(Image from China Central Television, via Youtube.)

China’s notoriously dangerous coal mines have claimed almost three dozen new victims, state-run media reported over the weekend.

Thirty-two miners were killed in a gas explosion that ripped through a coal mine in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia on Saturday. Of 181 miners working underground in the mine operated by Baoma Mining, 149 survived, said Xinhua via South China Morning Post.

It’s the second coal mine accident in China in a week, and the fourth in just over a month. On October 31 a coal mine blast in Chongqing killed 33 miners; in Heilongjiang province, 21 were confirmed dead after an explosion last Tuesday in an unlicensed coal mine trapped them for four days. And seven people died on November 23 when a small mine in Jiangxi province, located in the country’s southeast, completely flooded.

It’s the second coal mine accident in China in a week, and the fourth in just over a month. 

The latest incident is being investigated and The State Administration of Work Safety, a safety watchdog, has “ordered local authorities to conduct safety checks and take remedial measures,” South China Morning Post reported.

While China announced plans earlier this year to shut down more than 1,000 underperforming coal mines, soaring prices, tightening supply and the upcoming winter season have prompted Beijing to relax the measures. At the same time, hundreds of new coal plants are under construction.

Official figures indicate that 171 people died last year in mining-related accidents in 45 operations across the country, significantly down from the 931 deaths reported in 2014, though government figures are often questioned for their accuracy.

Despite concerns about pollution, coal use in China remains strong, generating about three-quarters of the country’s electricity. Ambitious hydroelectric dam projects and the world’s largest program to install solar panels and build wind turbines haven’t been able to make a significant dent in China’s coal consumption. As a result, the sector generates more emissions than all the oil, coal and gas consumed in the US.