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36 killed in 2 coal mine accidents in China

Fire at a coal mine

Beijing : Thirty-six coal mine workers have been killed in northeast China in two separate coal mine accidents in as many days, raising fresh concerns over their safety in the world’s biggest coal producer.

Seventeen workers were killed in northeast China’s Liaoning Province yesterday when fire broke out in the afternoon at the Xingli coal mine in Huludao City.

Till last night, 23 trapped miners were lifted out of the mine, of whom 13 died while the remaining 10 were hospitalised.

Another four miners were later lifted out of the mine but died in hospital.

Officials said the fire was caused by electric welding, and an investigation is underway.

In a separate accident, 19 miners who were trapped in a coal mine following an explosion on Wednesday, may have died as they have no chance of survival due to excessive levels of poisonous gases and high temperatures, the rescue team said today.

The explosion that occurred at Xiangyang Coal Mine in Hegang City, Heilongjiang Province two days ago resulted in a fire.

Thirty-three of the 52 miners managed to escape while 19 others were trapped.

Smoke was still emitting from the mouth of the mine today, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Excessive levels of poisonous gases and sustained high temperatures in the mine have made it extremely difficult to attempt a rescue mission, an expert panel said.

There is no possibility of survival for the trapped miners, the panel agreed.

Safety experts have proposed that the mouth of the mine be sealed off so that inert gases can be pumped into the shaft to douse the flames.

The temperature at the mouth of the ventilation shaft was 55 degrees Celsius, according to monitoring data yesterday.

Technicians at the site believe the temperature at the heart of the blaze could reach 1,000 degrees Celsius.

China’s mines have long been the world’s deadliest though the number of casualties dropped last year. The country also tops the list of countries in terms of coal production.

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