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China coal mine death toll hits 22

11-26-2012 10:40 BJT

GUIYANG, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Rescuers are searching for the last missing person two days after a coal mine accident in southwest China that have killed 22 miners, local officials said Monday.

Two more bodies were pulled out from the pit of Xiangshui Coal Mine in Panxian County, Guizhou Province, Sunday night, said officials in charge of the rescue operations.

The mine was hit by a coal-gas outburst Saturday morning when 28 miners were working underground. Five miners have been rescued, with one being in critical conditions, Guizhou provincial authorities said earlier.

Eighteen miners were killed on the spot, the officials said.

Lu Hongzhuan, chairman of Pannan Coal Exploitation Co., Ltd, the operator of the mine, General Manager Wu Chao and Chief Engineer Zhao Qingping were sacked on Sunday following an investigation launched by the State Administration of Work Safety and the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

A deputy general manager of the Guizhou Panjiang Group, which controls the coal mine, also resigned, said a statement from a temporary office overseeing the rescue work and the investigation. The statement did not disclose the name of the manager.

Investigators blamed inadequate measures to prevent gas outburst for the deadly accident, said the statement.

The coal mine is located in Panxian County of the coal-rich Liupanshui City. It went into operation in 2006 with a designed annual output of 4 million tonnes. The mine sits on a coal deposit of 1.3 billion tonnes.

Coal produced by Xiangshui feeds Pannan Power Station in the region, which is considered a key part of the government's strategy to send electricity from its resource-rich western region to the power-hungry industry belts in the east.

According to government figures released in mid-October, 1,146 people died in 650 mining accidents this year. About 46.5 percent of the deaths were caused by illegal mining operations.

Authorities intended to shut down 625 small mines this year to boost mining safety.

The State Council, or the cabinet, on Saturday ordered tightened coal mine safety supervision.

It said in a circular that coal mines which have failed to meet the safety standards should not be reopened and those who abuse their power to lower overhaul standards would be punished.

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Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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