Five Killed, 48 Missing in Chinese Coal Mine Collapse

Rescue workers gather at the site of a collapsed coal mine in Alxa League, north China's I
Bei He/Xinhua via Getty

Chinese state media reported on Thursday that at least five people were killed and 48 are missing after an open-pit coal mine in northern Inner Mongolia collapsed in a landslide.

Astonishing security camera video of the disaster uploaded to social media showed a massive avalanche of rocks and dirt pouring into the mine pit:

When the dust settled, the pile of debris covering the mine was over 550 yards wide and 260 feet high.

“I had just started work at 1:15 in the afternoon when I realized that rocks were falling from the mountain. I saw that the situation was getting more and more serious, and an evacuation was organized, but it was too late, the mountain just collapsed,” an injured miner told China’s state CCTV from his hospital bed.

Various Chinese media reports said that over a thousand rescue workers are on site, surveying the area with drones and attempting to locate the missing miners. The rescue effort was halted by another landslide on Thursday.

CCTV said the mine was operated by a small company called Xinjing Coal Mining. The company had not commented on the disaster as of late Thursday morning, but CCTV ominously quoted police officials who said “relevant persons” deemed responsible for the collapse have been “controlled.”

The Associated Press (AP) on Thursday said Xinjing Coal was “cited and fined last year for multiple safety violations ranging from insecure access routes to the mining surface to unsafe storage of volatile materials and a lack of training for its safety overseers.”

China’s state-run Global Times did not mention the safety violations, but it did chastise Xinjing Coal for being caught with two uncertified safety workers in June 2022.

Rescue workers gather at the site of a collapsed coal mine in Alxa League, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Feb. 23, 2023. More than 900 people had rushed to the site for rescue operations after an open-pit mine collapsed in Alxa Left Banner at around 1 p.m. Wednesday, resulting in two deaths, six injuries, and 53 people missing. (Lian Zhen/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“The mine has been placed on debt-defaulter list for 13 times, according to online business information provider Tianyancha. It said that the coal mine has been involved in hundreds of lawsuits since 2014 to 2022, for outstanding payment on equipment and other disputes,” the Global Times said, adding that the company is about $1.5 million behind in paying various taxes.

The Global Times and other Communist Party outlets gave dictator Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang great credit for demanding “all-out efforts in search and rescue” and demanding a thorough investigation of the incident. The Global Times slobbered over Xi supposedly directing the massive rescue effort himself by giving “important instructions” to the army of assembled doctors and mining specialists.

In truth, as foreign media noted, China has appalling safety records in many of its key industries, and few are worse than mining. The Chinese Communist Party was quick to pounce on the Ohio train derailment as supposedly proving the superiority of its authoritarian government, but the Chinese government gets its own citizens killed on a fearsomely regular basis through idiotic regulations, lax oversight, rapacious greed for natural resources, and massive corruption that allows well-connected businessmen to skate past inspections until they become an international embarrassment to the regime.

The AP ran through a few of China’s recent debacles:

China has recorded a slew of deadly industrial and construction accidents in recent months as a result of poor safety training and regulation, official corruption and a tendency to cut corners by companies seeking to make profits. The economy has slowed, partly as a result of draconian lockdowns and quarantines imposed under the now-abandoned “zero COVID” policy.

In one of the worst recent incidents, 38 people were killed in a fire at a company dealing with chemicals and other industrial goods in the central province of Henan that was blamed on unsafe welding work.

Last month, an avalanche buried vehicles outside a highway tunnel in Tibet, killing at least 28. Many of those trapped were headed home for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The BBC added 23 miners killed by a carbon monoxide leak at a coal mine in December 2020, and ten miners killed in a gold mine explosion in January 2021.

China is the world’s biggest miner and consumer of coal, which it defiantly uses to power its industrial machine without the slightest concern for “climate change.” China frantically accelerated its already prodigious coal mining activities after blackouts in 2021, quickly opening new mines in coal-rich Inner Mongolia and constructing a huge new railroad system to haul its output. Mongolian coal output to China increased by over 200 percent per month last year.

Only waves of coronavirus infections and lockdowns slowed China’s ravenous appetite for coal, and with those obstacles receding, Beijing authorized an astounding 260 million tonnes of new coal mining capacity for the coming year. The central government is urging local utility officials to expand their contracts with domestic coal mines, incentivizing them to increase production even further.


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