The massive earthquake that struck Sichuan Province on May 12 has had little impact on coal production in China, a senior official of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said Saturday.
All 294 coal mines affected in the hard-hit southwestern province have halted production, Wang Shuhe, SAWS deputy director, told reporters.
Most of these mines were small, with 254 having annual output of less than 60,000 tons each, Wang noted. "China's coal production, little affected by the quake, is still able to meet the demand."
Sichuan accounts for about 4 percent of the country's coal output.
"The government is sending coal from other regions to Sichuan," the official added.
The quake killed 176 miners, with another 204 still among the missing and 24 trapped underground in three mines, according to the work safety regulator.
"The unfavorable conditions have hampered rescue efforts at one mine," another deputy director, Wang Dexue, told reporters. "We are racing against time to reach the trapped miners and will never give up until the last moment."
Wang Dexue said the agency has ordered that mines do more to monitor and repair serious safety loopholes. That directive also applied to dynamite warehouses, oil tankers, and oil and natural gas pipes.
No companies would be allowed to resume operation before meeting stringent safety standards, Wang Dexue stated.
(Xinhua News Agency May 25, 2008)