At least 22 miners died and 60 others were missing after a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in northwest China’s Xinjiang region on Monday.
A total of 87 people were working in the Shenlong coal mine in Xinjiang’s Fukang city, when the blast hit the shaft.
As Socialist Worker went to press on Tuesday, only five miners had been found alive.
Survival rates in gas explosions are generally low due to the short time it takes for gas inhalation to kill a person, especially with high gas density.
As the cause of the blast was under investigation, the government’s work safety agency revealed on Monday that one miner died and 14 others were feared dead in a separate coal mine accident in southern China’s Jiangxi province.
On 2 July a gas explosion at the Jiajiapu coalmine killed 19 workers. A few days earlier a prison mine in Guizhou province flooded, drowning three convict labourers.
China’s mines are considered the most deadly in the world, as safety is often sacrificed in the pursuit of fuel to drive the country’s rapid industrialisation and economic growth.
Official figures show that more than 6,000 miners died in accidents in China last year, although independent estimates say the real figure could be as high as 20,000.