China mine death toll hits 30

The death toll from a coal mine blast in China has risen to 30, officials said, as hopes faded for seven miners still trapped – prompting anger from internet users wishing for a Chile-style rescue.

Saturday’s accident in the central province of Henan was the first major incident in China’s notoriously dangerous mines since the dramatic rescue last week of 33 miners trapped for more than two months in Chile.

State media joined users of China’s vast blogosphere in condemning the country’s existing safety procedures, saying more needed to be done to reduce the massive mine death toll which last year topped 2,600.

In the city of Yuzhou in Henan, rescuers pulled more bodies out of the dank coal pit early on Monday, bringing the death toll to 30, with seven others still unaccounted for, the State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement.

Rescuers said there was little hope of finding any more survivors in the colliery, and that it would likely take several days to find those still missing.

Du Bo, the deputy director of the rescue operation, said the missing miners were likely buried in the more than 2,500 tonnes of coal dust that smothered the pit after the gas blast.

A total of 276 miners were at work below ground when the disaster happened and 239 managed to make it to the surface, the national work safety agency said.

Independent labour groups say the actual number of mine deaths last year is likely much higher than the seven people-a-day estimated by the government.

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