BEIJING – Two of the 22 miners, who were trapped overnight following a coal mine accident in Shandong province in eastern China, have died, local authorities reported Sunday.
A rock burst inside a coal mine in the province’s Yuncheng district had trapped the 334 miners, who were working inside.
Emergency teams managed to evacuate 312 workers but 22 remained trapped, according Zhai Minghua, a spokesperson of the Shandong Energy Group, who owns the mine.
The accident occurred around midnight, and at around 11am on Sunday, the ventilation system inside most parts of the mine was restored.
The operation to rescue the 20 trapped people, and the extraction of the two bodies were being hampered by the dislodgement of broken rocks inside the mine, said Zhai.
The cause of the accident is still being investigated; however, such incidents are usually triggered by explosions carried out inside the mines.
A rescue team of more than 170, including firemen, were involved in the emergency operations, following the accident.
Around the beginning of August, 13 miners were killed in a mine explosion in southern China.
In China, mines, especially coal mines – the country’s main source of energy – are among the most dangerous in the world with a high rate of accidents, although in recent years fatalities have fallen significantly.
In 2017, there were 219 accidents in Chinese coal mines with 375 deaths, a drop of 28.7 percent from 2016 and 20 times lower than the figure recorded during the early 2000s, when up to 7,000 people died in mine accidents each year.