Mine blast toll climbs to 43 in SW China
Updated: 2012-09-02 08:29
By Huang Zhiling in Panzhihua, Sichuan (China Daily)
The death toll in last week's gas explosion in Southwest China's Sichuan province has risen to 43 as more bodies were retrieved on Saturday, said Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety.
He made the remarks in a plenary session of the State Council investigation group probing the explosion that took place around 5 pm on Wednesday in the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua, Sichuan.
Leading officials from the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, National Energy Administration and Supreme People's Procuratorate attended the session, as well as those from the Sichuan provincial government.
A total of 154 miners were on the site when the explosion occurred at the mine; 108 survived the explosion, while three miners were still trapped underground on Saturday.
"No efforts will be spared to search for them if there is even a glimmer of hope," said Yang, who attributed the tragedy to irregularities on the part of the mine owner.
He said the Zhengjin Industry and Trade Company, which owns the mine, had submitted gas tests from a better-ventilated site to meet safety standards.
"To pass the examination of government inspectors, the mine had installed the equipment testing gas at sites whose ventilation was very good. It was at the expense of the lives of our miner brothers," Yang said.
The Xiaojiawan pit was unusually narrow and its management was very poor, Yang said.
The pit could hold only 75 people. "But 154 miners were at the site when the explosion took place," he said, adding that the small mine has an annual output of only 90,000 tons.
Yang said he was puzzled why a mine with so many problems had all the certificates required for its operation.
According to Liu Jie, deputy governor of Sichuan, one month before the explosion, the mine passed a safety check conducted in the province.
"It is really a shame," he said in an emergency meeting pertaining to production safety held by the Sichuan provincial government on Friday evening.
"For personal gain, some government officials help businessmen at the expense of public interest," the deputy governor said angrily.
He promised to mete out severe punishment for any official involved in fraud in relation to the mine.
Fu Jianhua, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said that Wednesday's explosion was the largest coal-mine incident and gas explosion in the country this year.
He called for the screening of coal mines in Panzhihua, a major coal producer in Sichuan, to eliminate safety hazards.
"Those which cannot meet safety requirements have to be closed," he said.
In the emergency meeting held on Friday evening, Liu said that Sichuan had decided to close all small coal mines with an annual output below 60,000 tons.
Fifty-four surviving miners are receiving treatment in four hospitals in Panzhihua.