Rescue teams are still heading underground, but hopes are dimming in China that any more survivors from the Xingxing mine accident will now be found.
92 workers are now known to have died, and another 16 remain unaccounted for, but more than a day after the gas explosion, thick smoke continues to billow out of the mine shaft. The coalmine, one of north-east China’s biggest, was in the process of being cleared in an emergency evacuation because of a gas alert when the methane exploded at a depth of 500 metres. “As far as I know there was no warning of this accident. If there had been we could have controlled it. That’s the first thing. On top of that, as I just said, it was a huge and sudden coal and gas explosion like a bomb,” said spokesman Zhang Jinguang. Although 420 miners were saved, the accident adds to the hundreds of lives already lost in coalmines this year. It is the worst mining accident in nearly two years. “I know two of the victims, and one of them hasn’t come up yet. They’re my friends,” said one of the anxious people waiting at the pithead. However casualty figures are down by over 18 percent this year as Beijing spends some 200 million euros a year to try and improve the industry’s dismal safety record, the worst in the world.