26 killed in coal mine fire in northeast China

World Today

Rescuers carry a body of a victim from Hengda coal mine in Fuxin, Liaoning. Photo: Xinhua

The death toll from a coal mine fire in the city of Fuxin in in northeast China’s Liaoning Province early Wednesday has risen to 26, while 50 injured victims have undergone treatment in two local hospitals. CCTV’s Guan Yang reported this story from Fuxin, in northeast China’s Liaoning province.

Twenty-four people died at the scene and two were dead on arrival at hospital, Wang Haibing, chief engineer of the Liaoning Fuxin Coal Corporation, told a press conference late Wednesday.

Among the others injured, 18 were in a serious condition, mostly suffering burns and respiratory damage, Wang said.

“It’s impossible to estimate when these patients in the ICU could come out of critical condition… there could be secondary illnesses following the burns, like heart disease, lung disease and other infections,” said Zhang Dansi, head of the intensive care unit at the Fuxin Mining Corporation hospital.

The rescue is complete and 10 medical specialists have been sent from the provincial capital to help with treatment, with four more from Beijing and Shanghai on their way.

The fire occurred at 2:35 a.m. in a Hengda Coal mine, a subsidiary of the state-owned Liaoning Fuxin Coal Corporation, a major producer in the province.

Among those killed was Jiang Li, the deputy chief engineer of Hengda who organized work at the platform, said Liu Zhipeng, the Chinese Communist Party head at Hengda.

The identities of some victims have not been confirmed, family members were waiting at the company gates by Wednesday noon.

Liu said the fire engulfed the work platform very suddenly, hence the heavy casualties.

“The fire had already gone out before rescuers could do anything,” he said.

The platform was 800 meters, or about .5 miles, below ground, and had been open for only two months.

Fuxin is some 200 kilometers, or 124 miles, northwest from Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province.

Before the fire started, a 1.6-magnitude earthquake was measured at a city near the coal mine. The local government is investigating whether the earthquake started the fire.

Hengda Coal, a company with more than 4,600 employees, has halted operations in all of its mines for safety checks.

Built in 1978, the Fuxin mine is one of the largest coal producers in northeast China with an annual output of 1.5 million tons.

It’s not the first time such an accident has happened in the mine. Last year, eight workers were killed during a gas leak.

Story compiled with information from CCTV News, Xinhua and The Associate Press.