A coal mine collapse last month in China left “53 dead and missing”, a minister said, implying that no survivors had been found since the first hours after the disaster.
On February 22, a 180-meter-high hill collapsed at an open-pit coal mine in Inner Mongolia, in the north of the country. Dozens of people and vehicles had been buried.
Inner Mongolia is a major coal producing region in China.
Rescue operations, involving hundreds of rescuers, had found six survivors and the bodies of six deceased.
Two weeks after the crash, Emergency Situations Minister Wang Xiangxi confirmed on Tuesday that no other people had since been found.
The mine collapse “leaved 53 people dead or missing, which saddens us deeply,” Wang said on the sidelines of the annual session of parliament in Beijing.
“The lessons to be learned are profound,” said the minister, who gives himself “absolute priority” to prevent accidents in the future.
Authorities will strengthen security measures and promote automation in high-risk areas, Wang Xiangxi added.
Mine safety has improved in recent decades, as has the media coverage of these incidents, many of which were once overlooked.
But accidents still occur regularly, due to the danger inherent in the sector and the sometimes random application of safety instructions.
At the end of December, a gold mine in the Xinjiang region (northwest) had collapsed when 40 people were working underground. Twenty-two had been brought to the surface.
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