TWELVE people have lost their lives after a roof cave-in triggered a gas outburst in a central Chinese coal mine, state run media reported.
The accident occurred Wednesday night when workers were busy underground at the mine in Dengfeng in the eastern province of Henan.
According to China’s Xinhua news agency, miners were carrying out maintenance work when the roof came down, triggering the outburst of gas.
39 of the 51 workers managed to wrestle themselves free of the fallen debris. Five were killed immediately and a further seven were left trapped. There is speculation that three of the fatalities may have been rescuers but this has not been confirmed.
At press time, the exact cause of deaths of the minors had yet to be made known.
Deadly accidents are fairly common at industrial sites in China, particularly in the mining sector, which has gained a bad reputation for its poor safety regulations.
There was a flurry of accidents in late 2016. One occurring in the northwestern Ningxia region in September that claimed 18 lives. And another in October that occurred in the southwestern area of Chongqing, claiming 33 lives.
In December 2016, two separate colliery explosions in Inner Mongolia and the northeastern province of Heilongjiang claimed the lives of nearly 60 people.
Back in early December, Song Yuanming, the deputy director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, warned that collieries should not operate beyond capacity and their managers should not stipulate overtime work as overextended mines often become prone to accidents.
While China continues to publicise its continuing progress in reducing coal mine fatalities, doubts remain about death counts and possible cover-ups in one of the most dangerous industries in the world.
Additional reporting by Associated Press