Beijing: At least 19 people died in a coal mine accident in northern China’s coal belt of Shanxi, state media reported Thursday.
The accident happened late Wednesday night at a mine owned by the Shanxi Datong Coal Mine Group.
According to reports, 129 people were working in the mine, and 110 managed to escape. The official Xinhua news agency said preliminary investigations have found that a large portion of the roof collapsed, and kicked up a dust storm within the cavern.
A senior manager was quoted by AFP last year saying that the company’s bosses were ramping up production to counter a drop in coal prices. Cranking up production with limited resources can lead to serious accidents and oversights in processes.
China is the world’s largest coal-producing country, and the Ministry of Land and Resources estimates that its mining sector employs 10.3 million people. China said recently that it plans to lay off over half of that workforce in the next two to three years, however, as the country vows to shift its economy’s reliance on heavy industries to consumer spending.
Shanxi has suffered several major accidents in its coal mines in past years. In 2013, one of the mines collapsed, killing 12 and injuring seven people. In 2010, an explosion killed at least 17 miners, and in a separate incident that year, a flooded mine trapped more than 100 workers for over a week.