Official: China Mine that Exploded was Too Crowded

AP reports that more than 500 miners were underground when the mine in Heilongjiang exploded, killing 104, and a government official told Xinhua that the mine’s structure was “far too complicated for its current ventilation system to work effectively”:

The mine that exploded in northern China, killing 104, had too many workers underground in an effort to increase output, a government official said Monday, exposing the risks often taken to meet the country’s insatiable energy demands.

The weekend gas explosion — China’s worst mining accident in two years — was a blow to the government’s recent efforts to improve safety standards in the industry, the deadliest in the world.

Grieving relatives, who wailed at the gate of the Xinxing mining office Monday morning, were shocked that the such a blast could occur at one of China’s state-run mines, which the government has promoted as being safer that smaller, privately run concerns.

“We thought the state mines were safe. Why did he die?” Liu Shujiu asked a reporter who was allowed into the mining complex. Liu’s 38-year-old husband Zhang Shulai was among the victims. The couple have a 9-year-old daughter. “How do I tell her that her father is not coming home?”

But even as officials hustled to calm the families, miners idled near the shafts in their battered work clothes, waiting for word that their shifts might start again.

November 23, 2009, 2:15 PM
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