LIAOYANG, CHINA (BNO NEWS) — Seventeen workers remain trapped underground after a coal mine accident in northeastern China last week, local officials said on Friday. There is little chance of finding any survivors.
The accident happened on March 22 when two suspected gas explosions ripped through the Dahuang No. 2 Coal Mine in the city of Liaoyang in China’s northeastern Liaoning Province, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. Five people were found dead while 17 others remain missing.
As rescue operations continue, emergency teams told the state-run Xinhua news agency that there is little chance of finding survivors of the mine accident. The rescue headquarters said high levels of carbon monoxide and other gases were released following the blast, further hampering rescue efforts.
According to the Public Security Bureau of Liaoyang, the mine was illegally re-opened after an earlier safety overhaul ordered it shut down. Despite the owner of the mine fleeing the scene after the accident, police officers were later able to arrest the owner, as well as three managers, on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, at least thirteen miners were killed after an elevator fell out of control and slammed into the bottom of the Shimen Iron Ore Mine in Lucheng township, which is located in Cangshan county in Shandong province. The accident occurred when a steel rope which was carrying the elevator broke, causing it to plummet to the bottom of the pit.
Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years but they remain among the world’s most dangerous with 1,083 fatalities in the first seven months of 2011 alone. There were 2,433 fatalities in 2010 and 2,631 in 2009.
China in recent years shut down scores of small mines to improve safety and efficiency in the mining industry. The country has also ordered all mines to build emergency shelter systems by June 2013 which are to be equipped with machines to produce oxygen and air conditioning, protective walls and airtight doors to protect workers against toxic gases and other hazardous factors.
The first manned test of such a permanent underground chamber was carried out in August 2011 when around 100 people – including managers, engineers, miners, medical staff, and the chamber’s developers – took part in a 48-hour test at a mine owned by the China National Coal Group in the city of Shuozhou in northern China’s Shanxi Province.
One of the worst mining accidents in China in recent years happened in November 2009 when 104 workers were killed after several explosions at a coal mine in Heilongjiang province.