Chinese safety regulators blame ‘reckless greed’ after 15 die in coal mine blast

Alice Yan

A coal mine explosion that killed 15 people in northern China should be blamed on “reckless greed” and neglect, the state safety regulator said on Tuesday.

The blast happened at the Ermugou mine in Pingyao county, Shanxi province, at around 1.50pm, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Nine miners were also injured in the explosion, which is believed to have been caused by a gas blast, and were in a stable condition in hospital.

There were a total of 34 workers in the pit when the explosion occurred and the rescue operation finished in the early hours of Tuesday.

The mine was owned by the town government and had an annual capacity of 1.2 million tonnes, a statement from the National Coal Mine Safety Administration said on Tuesday.

Initial investigations suggested that the accident happened because the management had broken the rules by mining in the wrong area and using inadequate ventilation machines, the statement said.

“The accident demonstrates the leaders of the mine are reckless with greed, breached the red line and violated rules in deciding exploitation areas,” the authority said.

The rescue operation concluded early on Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

The statement also said the investigation suggested that they failed to install surveillance cameras at key positions.

Neither the town government nor mine managers have commented publicly on the allegations.

Demand for coal in China has been surging as thermal power plants, which mainly use coal, have generated an increasing amount of electricity over the past few years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Accidents happen frequently in mines across the country due to poor safety management and a lack of awareness about safety.

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In July, six workers were killed and one injured in a gas explosion at a coal mine in Bijie in the southwestern province of Guizhou.

Earlier this month, seven people were rescued after being trapped in a coal mine in Shuangyashan in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. China News Service reported that the accident was caused by the collapse of the mine’s ventilation tunnel.

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