A mine blast in central China has left four dead and dozens trapped after a 2.9-magnitude earthquake ignited a "rock burst."
According to the official Xinhua News Agency, the blast occurred at 7:45 p.m. in the Qianqiu Coal Mine in central Henan province.
As reported by the official state news agency, a total of 75 miners were working in the mine at the time of the blast – 14 of them managed to escape. Rescue workers were able to pull out seven people from the caved-in coal mine, however 50 remain trapped.
Six of the seven rescued miners encountered minor injuries while one sustained significant injuries.
The People’s Daily website indicated that the condition of the remaining 50 miners is unknown, however, 200 workers are frantically digging another tunnel to try to reach the miners.
The fate of the miners depends on the ability of the rescuers to provide ventilation for the trapped workers.
The head of the Communist party’s propaganda in Yima told the Associated Press, “If it was not very strong, it might have caused the tunnel to get narrower, but we might still be able to send some air in there to ensure ventilation.”
He added that if the impact of the blast was strong than it likely caused the tunnel walls to collapse, cutting off ventilation of suffocating the remaining miners.
China’s coalmines are known as the most dangerous in the world, however the country significantly reduced the number of deaths occurring in its mines since 2002 by closing illegal mines and merging smaller mines with large state-owned enterprises.
Nevertheless, concerns still persist with regards to the safety and management of the mines. Geoff Crothall of the Hong Kong-based China Labor Bulletin told The Guardian, “Just because you have large state-owned mines doesn’t mean they are properly managed or that safety has been made a high priority.”