The fatal gas blast in Daping coal mine, Henan
Province, has left 79 dead and 69 others missing with slim
chance of survival by Saturday afternoon, while another 57 people
were reported killed or missing in three other coal mine accidents
At 22:10 Wednesday night, the explosion triggered off by a gas
outburst ripped through Daping coal mine. Only 298 out of the 446
miners working underground escaped.
Some 50 minutes earlier, a coal mine gas blast left six people
dead and another seven still missing in Chongqing, southwest
At about 6:00 Wednesday morning, 29 miners were trapped in a
coal mine stricken by flooding in Wu'an City of Hebei Province,
central China, and there has had no report of survival so far.
Two days later, 15 miners were added to the national death toll
of coal mine accidents when a gas explosion took place Friday in
Guizhou Province, southwest China, which also left five others
Some ten hours after the Daping accident, Sun Huashan, deputy
director of the State Administration of Work Safety, announced at a
press conference in Beijing that death toll of coal mine accidents
in the January-August period this year totaled 3,457. Sun confirmed
the Daping accident was the deadliest one so far this year.
"Four fatal accidents in no more than one week, it's
unimaginable," said Li Xiguang, a professor with Tsinghua
University, on Friday. "The fact that fatal accidents take place as
frequently as this indicates new problems emerging in the fast
Prof. Li, who once worked as a coal miner, said that the central
government attaches great importance to the principle of "putting
the people first" and work safety. However, many coal mines were so
shortsighted as to fail to invest enough in safety facilities while
exploiting the backward aging equipment for as much profits as
possible, which explains the frequent accidents here and there.
"There are still a lot of loopholes in safety management of coal
mines throughout the country," Sun said, adding that most of the
coal mines have to overload themselves in production partly because
of the short supply at the coal market.
Actually, overload has become a major approach for output growth
in the coal industry in China, the world's biggest consumer and
producer of the fossil fuel.
According to the administration, around one third of state-owned
coal mines are overloaded, which brings them closer to accidents
and puts pressure on sustainable development.
China's coal production is forecast to top 1.9 billion tons this
year, surpassing the current production capacity.
Many observers reached by Xinhua Friday blamed enterprises' poor
awareness of production safety as the major factor behind the
"Driven by interests, many companies just want to maximize
profits and minimize costs, and are reluctant to invest more in
measures to ensure work safety," said Li Dun, a sociologist with
China now has more than 300 million surplus workers and they
appear as the weak group in the employment market. "No matter how
dangerous the work is and how low the pay is, miners dare not say
anything about it because mine owners have a long list of
job-seekers in hand," said Li.
Li called on the government to deepen reform for narrowing the
gap between urban and rural areas, between different regions and
between different industries in line with the principle of putting
people first and achieving sustainable development.
"This is the only way out if we want to prevent accidents from
occurring in coal mines at such a high frequency," the scholar
The Daping mine, affixed to state-owned Zhengzhou Coal Industry
Group, has suffered from three fatal accidents before, and other
mines of the group also witnessed frequent occurrence of
"This indicated the poor management of state-owned enterprises,"
said Li, adding that accelerating the establishment of a modern
corporate system and the reform of property rights will help
improve the capability of enterprises to deal with work safety.
Ding Yuanzhu, professor with Peking University, linked the
accidents to the enhancement of the Party's governance capability.
He said that dealing with all kinds of crisis in a proper way has
become an important part of the governance capability of the
Communist Party of China.
"But some local governments are barely not aware of the
importance of risk management for China's economic and social
development, and they are not duly competent in building a
harmonious society," said Prof. Ding.
"Governments at all levels should learn something from the
Daping mine accident and think over seriously what should be done
to better serve the people," said the professor.
(Xinhua News Agency October 24, 2004)