Twelve coal miners working underground were trapped due to a fire in southwest China's Guizhou Province, and their fates remain unknown, local authorities stated yesterday.
The fire broke out at about 11:20 PM, Saturday, at the Xiangshui Coal Mine located at the Panxian County of Liupanshui City, according to the Guizhou Provincial Coal Mine Safety Bureau.
Firemen have been rushed to the scene and have undertaken a rescue operation.
The fire continues to pour out of the mine shaft producing a blaze extending six meters above ground, preventing rescuers from approaching closer than 20 meters.
Experts are studying how best to extinguish the blaze.
The coal mine, with an output capacity of four million tons a year, is affiliated with the county's Pannan Power Plant.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
In Beijing yesterday, China's safety supervisor stated that by December 19, across the nation 2,411 mines had been shutdown due to safety concerns.
The State Administration of Coal Mine Work Safety released a list naming the first batch of 1,044 coal mines at which operations were ceased. Among these halted units, 59 are in Beijing, 125 in Hebei Province, 386 in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, 70 in Jiangxi Province, 58 in Hubei Province, and 135 are in Sichuan Province.
According to regulations on coal mine work safety promulgated by the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, coal mines failing to obtain safety licenses within a specified period must terminate production until rectification. If those operations fail to pass a safety check at a later date, the mines should be shutdown.
By December 19, a total of 12,990 coal mines were ordered to cease production due to safety issues, said sources with the administration.
Official statistics revealed that from January to September this year, 4,228 people had been killed in 2,337 coal mine accidents.
(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2005)