China Mine Flood Toll Climbs to 35

Two weeks after the Wangjialing mine flood struck, the death toll has continued to rise. AFP reports:

Rescue work was still going on at the unfinished mine in Shanxi province, China’s coal-producing heartland, the State Administration of Work Safety said, with three workers still unaccounted for.

The March 28 flood at the mine had left 153 workers trapped underground, but 115 were rescued alive last week, in what officials described as a “miracle” for the country’s notoriously dangerous coal mining industry.

The rescue effort has stalled in the past week, with high water levels, blocked passages and hazardous gas levels hindering progress, and rescuers have been recovering several bodies each day.

Gao Guoshun, director of the provincial health bureau, said the 115 men saved last week were all in stable condition, with only 12 cases described as serious, the Global Times reported Monday.

On China Media Project
, Qian Gang writes about the role of propaganda in the domestic news coverage of the rescue, and deaths, of the Wangjialing miners:

The Wangjialing case, said the PLA news release, “demonstrates the great superiority and cohesiveness of the socialist system.” It must, therefore, be used to instruct soldiers, “enhancing the awareness and determination of officers and soldiers in holding high the banner [of the CCP], heeding the Party’s commands, and fulfilling their missions.”

I urge everyone to please not forget that even as these “red slogans” were being plastered across state media, rescue workers were hauling up the dead from the mine, and many miners remained missing. Meanwhile, the family members of missing miners waited bitterly for any news of their loved ones.

Nor can we forget the traumatic nature of the ordeal surviving miners have been through, and the fact that they have not been freed from long-term dangers. Before long, they must return to work. And under what conditions?

See also “Coal Mine Camaraderie” from Evan Osnos of the New Yorker.

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