5 Dead, 48 Missing After Coalmine Collapse in China’s Inner Mongolia

At least five people have died and 48 are missing after an open-pit coalmine collapsed in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in north China on Wednesday.[0] The footage, which is silent, reveals the landslide quickly engulfing the worksite within seconds, with only a few individuals visible after the large dust cloud dissipates.[1] Six individuals have been rescued from the debris, and an extensive rescue effort is currently in progress in an attempt to reach additional potential survivors.[1]

Dozens of workers were reportedly buried under a large pile of rubble approximately 80 meters high and spanning half a kilometer (550 yards) in width, following a landslide at an open-pit mine operated by the small local firm Xinjing Coal Mining Co., as stated by state broadcaster CCTV.[2] The mine collapsed around 13:00 local time (0500 GMT) on Wednesday and affected a “wide area”, authorities said.[3]

Chinese leader Xi Jinping said “We must make every possible effort to rescue the missing persons and treat the injured,” while Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called for an immediate investigation into the cause of the accident.[4]

On Wednesday evening, Wei Zhiguo, the head of the relief effort, stated that the mission had been put on pause due to a “massive landslide”. A second landslide later in the day impeded search efforts, which had already been hindered by the previous landslide halting them overnight.[1] He informed the state broadcaster CCTV that the rescue work is being done in an orderly yet tense manner.[1] The police informed the CCTV that they were conducting an investigation, and that the individuals involved had been “apprehended”.[1]

The miner, who is now hospitalized, told CCTV on Thursday that he had only just begun his shift at 1:15 pm when he noticed that rocks were coming down from the mountain.[5] The rescue operation was halted overnight due to the massive landslide, with efforts still blocked as of early Thursday morning — though state media reported in the afternoon that operations were “ongoing.”

China's Inner Mongolia region is home to some of the country's most significant coal mines. In an effort to increase supplies and reduce prices, Chinese mines have been attempting to increase production over the past year.[2] It is projected that the government will give the okay to 260 million tonnes of new coal mining capacity in 2022.[2] Inner Mongolia is the country's top coal-producing region, along with Shanxi and Shaanxi, it produces 90% of the country’s coal.

The tragic incident has sparked calls for greater safety regulations in the mining industry.

0. “At least five killed in open-pit coalmine collapse in north China” The Guardian, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/23/miners-killed-in-open-pit-coalmine-collapse-in-north-china

1. “Dozens feared dead after open pit mine collapses on workers” Boing Boing, 23 Feb. 2023, https://boingboing.net/2023/02/23/dozens-feared-dead-after-open-pit-mine-collapses-on-workers.html

2. “Mine collapse in China kills five, 48 miners still missing” CNBC, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnbc.com/2023/02/23/china-mine-collapse-mudslide.html

3. “Scores missing after large mine collapse in China” BBC, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-64730607

4. “Death toll rises in China mine collapse as rescue efforts continue” KAKE, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.kake.com/story/48430640/death-toll-rises-in-china-mine-collapse-as-rescue-efforts-continue

5. “Death toll rises in China mine collapse as rescue efforts continue” CNN, 23 Feb. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/22/china/china-coal-mine-collapse-intl/index.html

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