Mine collapse in China: four dead, dozens missing

China mine collapse: four dead, dozens missing


The collapse of a mining site in China has killed at least four people, according to a new count announced Thursday by state media, the search for dozens of missing having resumed after a interruption following a landslide.  

Workers were buried at around 1 p.m. (0500 GMT) on Wednesday when a 180-meter-high hill collapsed at an open-pit coal mine in western Inner Mongolia (north), according to CCTV television. .

Hundreds of rescuers were dispatched to the scene of the tragedy, located in the left banner of Alxa – name of an administrative area in the region.

Rescue operations had been interrupted after a landslide on Wednesday evening, but have since resumed, CCTV said on Thursday, adding that the tally now stood at four dead, six injured and 49 missing.

The channel aired images of rescuers in orange coveralls and yellow helmets amidst a mountain of rust-colored rubble as well as diggers clearing some of the debris.

“We had just resumed the work. Around 1:15 p.m. rocks were seen to start falling from the top of the hill. It was getting stronger and stronger,” surviving worker Ma Jianping told CCTV.

“It was decided to evacuate the premises. But he was already too late. The whole hill collapsed,” he said, lying on his hospital bed.

Investigation in progress

The injured are all in stable condition, a doctor from the hospital told the channel.

The causes of the tragedy are not yet known. The Xinjing Coal Mining Company, the operator of the mine site according to CCTV, did not respond to phone calls from AFP on Thursday.

“The reasons for the collapse are currently being investigated” and “the personnel concerned”, a term which probably refers to those responsible for the mine, have been arrested, said CCTV, citing the authorities.

A video posted on social media – believed to have been posted by a truck driver carrying coal – shows rocks cascading down a slope kicking up clouds of brown dust that engulf several vehicles.

“The whole slope collapsed (…) How many people died because of this?” launches a male voice in the background. “If I had stood in line there today, I would have died in there too.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday evening ordered local authorities to “do everything possible to search and rescue missing persons,” according to CCTV.

Frequent accidents

Alxa Left Banner is a sparsely populated area of ​​Inner Mongolia, whose economy is largely based on mining.

Mine safety has improved over the past decades in the country, as is the media coverage of these incidents, many of which were previously passed over in silence.

But accidents still occur regularly, due to the inherent danger of the sector and the sometimes random application of safety instructions. security.

At the end of December, 40 people were working underground when a gold mine collapsed in the Xinjiang region (Northwest) and 22 had been able to get out.

In December 2021, two miners who were stranded in a flooded coal mine in Shanxi (north) died and 20 others were saved after rescue operations.

And in September 2021, 19 miners trapped underground after the collapse of a coal mine in the province of Qinghai (Northwest) had been found dead after a long search.