Four dead, 50 trapped in China mine accident

Four dead, 50 trapped in China mine accident

BEIJING- Agence France-Presse
Four dead, 50 trapped in China mine accident

Rescuers carry a survivor out of the Qianqiu coal mine after a rock burst incident in Sanmenxia, Henan province November 4, 2011. REUTERS Photo

Four miners died and 50 were left trapped in a central China coal mine, officials said Friday, in the latest fatal incident to hit the nation's notoriously dangerous mining industry.

The accident occurred Thursday at the Henan Yima Coal Mine Group's Qianqiu facility in Henan province, a spokesman for the state-owned company told AFP.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, a rock burst -- or a sudden ejection of rocks -- occurred in the mine shaft, trapping the miners.

The company spokesman, who refused to be named, said four mine workers had been confirmed dead and 57 were trapped in the mine shaft.

Another company official, who gave his surname as Du, later told AFP seven of the workers had been rescued.

"The location of the other miners has been confirmed and we are stepping up rescue efforts," he said, adding it was unclear whether they were still alive.

The rock burst happened moments after a 2.9 magnitude earthquake shook Henan's Sanmenxia city, where the mine is located, the report said. It was not immediately clear whether the earthquake directly caused the accident.

The Henan coal mine safety bureau said 75 miners were in the shaft at the time and 14 managed to escape.

The incident is the latest to hit the mining industry in China, and came days after a gas explosion in a state-owned coal mine in neighbouring Hunan province left 29 miners dead.

Earlier in October, blasts in the southwestern city of Chongqing and the northern province of Shaanxi killed 13 and 11 miners respectively.

In 2010, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics -- a rate of more than six workers per day.

China's rapid economic growth has caused demand for energy, including coal, to surge, with some mining bosses putting the safety of workers at risk to chase profits.