Two coal mine accidents in one day - 15 miners dead

Two separate explosions at coal mines in Yunnan and Hunan on 17 May killed 15 miners, according to Chinese media reports.

The first explosion, which killed at least eight miners, occurred on Tuesday morning at the Golden Bamboo Mountain mine in Hunan. There were reportedly 14 miners underground at the time. Less than 12 hours later, a gas and coal dust explosion at the Nanfeng mine in Yunnan killed seven miners. Thirteen miners managed to escape. The cause of the explosions at both mines is being investigated, and the mine owners have reportedly been detained.

The latest incidents come less than two weeks after, Gao Zhenhe, a mine owner in the north-eastern province of Heilongjiang reportedly admitted trying to cover up a deadly mine blast by forging the cremation certificates of nine dead miners and then paying their families around one million yuan each in hush money.

Although Gao failed in his cover-up bid, it seems almost certain that many other small mine bosses do get away with it by bribing local officials (who also stand to lose their jobs if the accident is reported) and paying off bereaved families.

According to official statistics released in February, total of 2,433 coal miners were killed in accidents last year, a 7.5 percent drop compared with 2009 when 2,631 miners died.
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