BEIJING – China raised on Monday the death toll to 21 in a coal mine accident in the eastern Shandong province earlier in the month, and said that rescue work had been completed.
Emergency teams have been working to rescue trapped miners for more than a week after a rock burst on Oct. 20 had destroyed a part of a water drainage tunnel in the mine and blocked the exit of 334 miners, who were working inside.
Following the incident, rescue teams evacuated 312 miners, while 22 had remained trapped and only one of them could be rescued alive according to local authorities cited by state news agency Xinhua.
The cause of the accident is still being investigated, although rock fracture incidents are usually triggered by explosions carried out inside the mines.
In China, mines, especially coal mines – the country’s main source of energy –, are among the most dangerous in the world with a high rate of accidents, although in recent years fatalities have fallen significantly.
On Thursday, a coal mine gas explosion in the southwestern Sichuan province had killed 4 people.
In 2017, there were 219 accidents in Chinese coal mines with 375 deaths, a drop of 28.7 percent from 2016 and 20 times lower than the figure recorded during the early 2000s, when up to 7,000 people had died in mine accidents each year.