China coal mine collapse death toll rises to five workers

Coal mine. (Reference image by hangela, Pixabay).

All five workers who were trapped after a roof collapsed at a coal mine in Shanxi province in northern China have been pronounced dead, state-run CCTV reported.

The incident occurred Friday at a Fenghuangtai Coal Industry Co. mine in Qinyuan county, China News reported. The first death was confirmed late Sunday night, according to a Beijing News report.

Shanxi is China’s top coal-producing province: it accounted for 1.2 billion tons of output last year and is on pace for an 11% increase so far this year. The government has pushed mines to lift production to ensure there’s ample supply of the key power plant fuel to avoid widespread electricity shortages that stunted the economy last fall.

Coal mining accidents have been a persistent problem for Beijing in recent years, and stricter inspections and harsher punishments for unsafe mines last year were cited as reasons for the drop in output that helped cause the energy crunch.

There were 86 coal mining accidents that killed 129 people in the first seven months of this year, including an underground well collapse in Guizhou in February that caused 14 deaths, according to the National Mine Safety Administration. Total mining fatalities are down 24% from the same period in 2021, the administration said.

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