A coal mine shaft has collapsed in north-western China, killing 16. This serves only as another reminder of the dangers in the industry, despite demand for the black rock levelling off.
Another 11 miners, it has been confirmed, were injured by the disaster, which struck just before midnight Friday in Tiechanggou Township outside the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi.
33 miners were in the shaft when the tragedy struck, six of these miners were dragged to safety by rescuers says the State Administration of Work Safety. The official speaking, under conditions of anonymity, stated that all of those who were injured are in stable condition and that the cause for the cave in will remain under investigation.
This was confirmed by state broadcaster CCTV showing footage of injured miners sitting up in their hospital beds and describing their experiences to a reporter.
China’s mines are among the most dangerous in the world, even with the vastly improved safety measures in the past few years. The number of fatalities due to coal mining has reduced dramatically in China. The China National Coal Administration reporting 1,067 deaths in 604 coal mining accidents in 2013, down 23 percent from the year before.
Those figure, whilst still appearing high, is down from more than 6,000 deaths a decade ago, largely due to increased inspections and the closure of small and unregulated mines. This decline in deaths may also be due to slowing demand for Chinese coal after the massive increase in demand a decade ago.
China still produces and consumes almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined, but the figures are slightly down from this time last year; 2% says Greenpeace. That decrease comes despite China still having an economic growth of 7.4% over the same period. This seems to indicate that the Chinese economy is becoming at least a little more efficient in terms of its energy usage.
This widespread use of coal is what has been blamed for the widespread smog which carpets China’s major cities quite frequently. Beijing was so smothered with toxic gas over the weekend that many citizens were forced to don air filtering masks when venturing outside.