Mining in China

If you haven’t seen it yet, go read Edward Cody’s Washington Post article on a recent Chinese mine disaster. It begins with a description from a survivor:

XINTAI, China, Aug. 23 — The first sign of trouble was a stream of water that burst from a wall deep in the mine, Wang Kuitao recalled. Within minutes, he said, the water was everywhere, rushing down the shaft carrying tons of mud. Another disaster was on the way, Wang quickly concluded, one more in the cruel rhythm of China’s deadly coal fields.

“I said to myself, ‘Something terrible has happened,’ ” Wang recounted later to a group of Chinese reporters.

Wang, 42, escaped the flooded mine with a half-dozen comrades, sloshing through water up to his chest and climbing for five hours through ventilation shafts. In all, 584 miners made their way to safety following the disaster last Friday. But 172 others, including Wang’s 39-year-old brother, have not made it out.

A heavy rainstorm apparently caused the flooding. A company executive says they had no warning of the rain’s intensity, but mineworker Qin Limei, whose husband and son are among the presumed victims, points out that two other mines in the area closed. “This accident was not a natural disaster at all,” she says. “It was a man-made disaster.”

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