At least 18 coal miners killed in carbon monoxide disaster in China

A rescue operation is underway in search of five other workers

Katie Anderson
Saturday 05 December 2020 16:10 GMT
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Rescue workers at the entrance of the coal mine in Yongchuan District of Chongqing, southwestern China
Rescue workers at the entrance of the coal mine in Yongchuan District of Chongqing, southwestern China (AP)
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At least 18 coal miners have been killed by excessive levels of carbon monoxide in southwest China, according to state TV.  

Only one out of 24 workers have been found alive following the disaster on Friday in the Diaoshidong mine in Chongqing municipality, according to officials.

A rescue operation is underway in search of five other workers, with police officers and firefighters on the scene.

Broadcaster CCTV said the lethal gas leak occurred while workers were deconstructing underground equipment, and that an investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident. 

The facility, established in 1975,  has an annual production capacity of around 120,000 tonnes of coal.  In March 2013, hydrogen sulfide poisoning left three dead and another two injured in the mine.

The official Xinhua news agency said that the incident at Diaoshidong is the region’s second such accident in just over two months.

In September 2020, 16 workers were killed when a conveyor belt caught fire at another mine in the municipality, producing similarly toxic levels of carbon monoxide.

And in December 2019, an explosion at a coal mine in Guizhou province, also in southwest China, left 14 people dead.

China's coal mining industry used to be the world's deadliest, suffering more than 5,000 fatalities a year.

Safety has improved dramatically after authorities started efforts to overhaul the industry around 15 years ago.

Labour rights groups say actual death tolls from mining are likely to be much higher than reported,  as owners seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

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