Preliminary investigation indicates that the fatal coal mine blast that killed 115 people in Jixi last Thursday was caused by a ventilation failure that was the result of human error.
"We are seeking the direct cause of the blast, and endeavoring to pinpoint its exact location," said Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety Supervision.
The spokesman said breaches of safety procedures led to the ventilation failure, which apparently caused the accumulation of the explosive gas.
The 24 injured people were in stable condition, Huang said at a press conference held yesterday in Jixi in Heilongjiang Province of Northeast China.
Zhao Wenlin, the general manager of the Jixi Mining Group, was confirmed dead. Zhao was inspecting work in the pit when the explosion occurred, local sources said.
Local sources said 109 bodies have been brought out of the mine, some burned beyond recognition.
Xinhua quoted Li Chunxiang, an official with the Jixi Mining Group, as saying that by Saturday, 48 bodies, including that of Zhao Wenlin, had been identified. DNA technology will be used in identifying the badly burned victims.
Five rescue teams were dispatched to the pit immediately after the accident. Twenty-four people were rescued and hospitalized on Thursday.
In a separate development, two people were killed and nine others are still missing in coal mine in Shaodong County in Central China's Hunan Province, where a mine shaft was flooded with water that broke through a facing.
(China Daily June 24, 2002)