31 Miners Die in two Chinese Coal Mine Accidents

The city of Jixi in northeastern China has proved to be a jinx for coal miners working in two separate mines. And it's not the first time that tragedy has struck at mines in the city.

The city of Jixi in northeastern China has proved to be a jinx for coal miners working in two separate mines. And it''s not the first time that tragedy has struck at mines in the city.

The explosions occurred on Tuesday and officials speculate that both were caused by natural gas. The first blast killed 24 miners at the Donghai Coal Mine, and later in the day, an explosion in the No. 3 Pit of the Didao District Coal Co killed seven miners. Four miners are still missing in that explosion.

Last February, a gas explosion at another mine in Jixi killed 35 miners. In 2001, a total of 5,670 coal miners died in fires, floods and explosions in Chinese mines.

There are thousands of coal mines in China; the government shut down over 12,000 mines in the past year for safety violations, with shut downs of 8,000 more planned. The shake-out, say government officials, will leave China with about 15,000 coal mines. Many of the mines targeted for shutdown are small operations, lacking proper ventilation, basic safety equipment and training for employees.

By comparison, there were 2,127 coal mines in the United States in 2001 and a total of 42 miners were killed in coal mine accidents that year.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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