Watch: Chinese Coal Mine Suffers Catastrophic Collapse, Men and Equipment Buried Under Mountainside-Sized Wave of Rock
The Wednesday afternoon collapse of an open-pit coal mine in northern China has resulted in the deaths of six people as of Friday, according to state media.
The mine collapsed because of a landslide that day, burying several workers under a debris pile 550 yards wide and approximately 87 yards high, Reuters reported citing state-broadcaster CCTV.
The incident occurred in the Alxa Left Banner in China’s Inner Mongolia province on Wednesday at 1 p.m., according to reporting from the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The mine was operated by Xinjing Coal Mining Cooperation, a small local mining company, Reuters reported.
As of Friday afternoon, local authorities have rescued six individuals, with 47 others still missing, emergency response officials told journalists at a news briefing, according to Xinhua.
Footage of the incident showed the walls of the open pit mine caving in as a sea of soil collapsed on workers, dump trucks and other equipment standing in the way, burying them.
Footage of a coal mine collapse in northern China has emerged. The incident has killed six so far, with 47 still missing. pic.twitter.com/pQSUb6wEAA
— South China Morning Post (@SCMPNews) February 25, 2023
“I had just started work at 1:15 in the afternoon. Then I realized rocks were falling from the mountain,” Ma Jianping, one of the workers who had been rescued and hospitalized, told CCTV.
“I saw the situation was getting more and more serious, and an evacuation was ordered. But it was too late. The mountain just collapsed,” Ma recalled.
The six individuals who had been rescued mostly suffered from injuries to the head, hip, chest, hands, and upper limbs, Wang Benzhou, a doctor at the people’s hospital in Qingtongxia City, told Xinhua.
With around 23 rescue teams — totaling up to 1,155 rescue personnel — rescue efforts are underway to find survivors and bodies at the mine.
The rescue teams are using remote sensing satellite technology to find areas where individuals buried by the landslide are likely to be concentrated, explained Cheng Xiangdong from the regional fire and rescue corps, according to Xinhua.
Rescue efforts for 47 missing miners resumed in northern China’s Inner Mongolia where a coal mine collapse killed at least 6 people, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported https://t.co/gt4CqJChGH pic.twitter.com/Qdqom9CM4E
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 24, 2023
To narrow down the search, drones are used to construct two and three-dimensional images of the area. After that, life detectors, search and rescue dogs, and other means are deployed to find the trapped, Cheng said.
“GPS, metal detectors, and other equipment are also used to improve the search and rescue accuracy,” Cheng added, according to Xinhua.
China is a major consumer of coal, which helps provide energy for its industries. However, coal mines in China have a reputation for having poor safety standards, Reuters reported.
In 2020, the Chinese government restricted the construction of new mines in Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi provinces, Quartz reported.
Only mines with an annual output of more than 1.2 million tons could be built under the regulations. The government’s objective with the rule was to cut pollution and focus on large high-tech mines with close regulatory monitoring, the outlet reported.
By the rules, mines like the one that collapsed, which produced 900,000 tons per annum, would not have been allowed to be constructed today.
“We must make every possible effort to rescue the missing persons and treat the injured,” China’s President Xi Jinping said, according to Reuters.
“All regions and related departments should screen for and rectify all types of risks and hidden dangers with a sense of responsibility, enhance prevention measures and ensure strict implementation to better coordinate development and safety,” Xi said, Xinhua reported.
Authorities in several parts of the country have ordered mines to carry out immediate safety checks and local authorities to conduct inspections following the accident, Reuters reported.
The cause for the collapse remains under investigation, with those related to the incident under police custody, Xinhua reported.
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