China

China Coal Mine Explosion kills 27

Rescuers prepare to go into a coal mine to search for stranded miners in Hebi City, central China's Henan Province, in the early morning of May 11

Rescuers prepare to go into a coal mine to search for stranded miners in Hebi City, central China’s Henan Province, in the early morning of May 11

An explosion at a coal mine in China’s south-west Guizhou province has killed 27 miners and injured 16 others, state media reported May 10.

The blast occurred on Friday evening in the Dashan coal mine in Pingba county, provincial officials said.

An investigation has been launched into the incident, the Xinhua news agency reported.

In 2012, 1,384 people were killed in coal mine accidents, down from 1,973 in 2011, Xinhua said. Most of the accidents occurred in smaller coal mines, many illegal or unlicensed.

China’s mines have a notoriously poor safety record, despite official’s efforts to improve standards.

Last month a coal mine gas explosion in the north-eastern Jilin province killed 18 miners and injured 12 others. Deaths and injuries are often blamed on a failure to follow safety procedures.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment, according to Agence France-Presse.

China’s mine safety record is also poor by measures, with the country accounting for 40 percent of global coal output but 80 percent of mining deaths around the world each year, according to BBC.

A Chinese miner is 100 times more likely to die in an accident than a miner in the US.

(Video Produced by NTD Television

A new study in the Harvard Business Review of 276 Chinese enterprises operating in dangerous industries such as mining found a startling correlation between worker fatality rates and the political ‘connections’ of enterprise managers. The study revealed that ‘connected’ companies had five times as many worker deaths on average as unconnected companies.

The Hong-King-based China Labour Bulletin pointed out in a 2008 research report on the coal mining industry in China that one the key reasons why local government officials fail to enforce coal mine safety standards is the intricate web of collusion that exists between the mine owners and those government officials. In many cases, local government officials have a direct economic interest in the mine and are more interested in profit than safety.

The State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said that 93 percent of gas explosions in mines were caused by problems with ventilation. The Chinese government has given all mines until the end of June to install emergency systems under a State Council order in 2010, according to HazardEx.

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