Specially trained and equipped mine rescue teams, to be formed this year, will significantly reduce the number of fatalities, according to a leading emergency rescue expert.
Equipment of a rescue team based in Kailuan, Hebei province. [File photo]
Last year, 3,033 miners were killed in 2,072 accidents. The government has vowed to reduce the death toll to 2,700 within four years, he said.
The seven teams, located in the coalmining areas of Hebei, Shanxi, Heilongjiang, Shandong, Henan, Sichuan and Gansu provinces, have been selected and upgraded from existing teams and are being given state-of-the-art training and equipment, Wang said.
The State Council demanded the teams be set up following the 2010 Wang Jialing colliery flood in Shanxi that claimed the lives of 38 miners. The government since then has spent more than 800 million yuan ($127 million) on new equipment, Wang said.
The rescue teams are undergoing comprehensive training schedules conducted under military discipline, Wang said. Theoretical training for two hours every day is part of the schedule. Combat exercises take place every 10 days and a general exercise, simulating disaster conditions, is held every quarter.
"Each team member will be asked to perform certain duties in high temperatures surrounded by toxic gas while wearing a mask," Wang said.
"In the 2010 Yushu earthquake rescue in Qinghai province none of our rescuers had altitude sickness while many of the soldiers had a reaction to the conditions," Zhao Lanyou, team leader of the Kailuan rescue team in Hebei, said.