A coal mine in central China’s Henan Province where an underground explosion
killed 47 people in on 21 June was operating illegally, officials have said.
The operating licence of Xingdong No. 2 Mine in Weidong District, Pingdingshan
City, expired on 6 June, and the district government cut its electricity supply on
7 June, according to local officials.
However, mine manager Liu Jianguo still managed to produce coal even as ten
district government supervisors were stationed at the mine, said Luo Lin, head of
the State Administration of Work Safety.
The shaft should have been sealed with concrete but instead it was covered with
a ‘moveable’ cement board, reporters at the scene witnessed.
“The accident shows safety regulations were not strictly observed at the
grassroots level and that some regulators may be in cahoots with mine owners,”
said Luo.
Seventy-five miners were underground when the blast occurred. Twenty-five of
the 28 rescued miners were hospitalized, one of whom has been discharged.
Fifteen are in stable conditions while the nine others are in serious conditions.
Police have already detained the ‘responsible people’, officials said.
Henan produced 208mt (million tonnes) of coal in 2008, nearly 10% of the
country’s total output.
Last year, Pingdingshan ordered all 157 coal mine shafts within its district to
close, after a mine explosion killed 35 people in September.
Due to strong demand for energy in a booming economy and lax safety
standards, thousands of people are killed in China’s mines every year, despite
government pledges to shut or consolidate many small or unsafe operations to help
cut accidents.
The number of people killed in coal mines dropped to 2,631 in 2009, an average
of seven a day, from 3,215 in 2008, according to official statistics.