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Miners and trucks swallowed in deadly Chinese coal mine collapse



Miners and trucks swallowed in deadly Chinese coal mine collapse

Coal mine collapses in China's Inner Mongolia region scores missing

A surveillance camera has captured a coal mine collapse in China’s Inner Mongolia region earlier this week, an incident that saw at least six people killed, six injured and left 47 missing, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

The footage showed the moment the mine collapsed as miners and trucks were swallowed amid evacuation efforts on Wednesday.

State media reported that the collapse at the open-pit mine in Inner Mongolia’s Alxa League left a pile of debris roughly 500 metres across and an estimated 80m high.

Hundreds of rescuers with backhoes and bulldozers dug through tons of earth and rubble on Thursday as the search for the for 48 missing people continued.

Six people had been pulled alive from the mine in Inner Mongolia by 10:30pm on Thursday, local time, state media reported.

Li Zhongzeng, head of the town of Alxa League, said the rescue mission was difficult due to the threat of more landslides, and rescue plans include layered excavation and trapezoidal descending methods from both sides of the mountain, CCTV News said on Friday.

Conditions in the area remain dangerous, and the search had to be suspended for several hours because of a second landslide at the gigantic facility.

On Thursday afternoon, more than a dozen bulldozers, trucks, SUVs and fire engines were seen passing through a remote police checkpoint about 25 kilometres south-west of the mine.

Nearly all personnel were stopped by police and checked for entry approvals before being allowed to proceed along the road leading to the mine.

Security was also tight at another checkpoint in the neighbouring region of Ningxia, 15 kilometres east of the mine, with dozens of officers inspecting every vehicle that sought to pass in either direction.

Cranes and other pieces of heavy equipment could be seen, along with covered trucks.

Police detain people over collapse

Rescuers used heavy digging equipment and cameras that could snake down into the debris, along with thermal imaging technology and equipment to detect vital signs, the head of the rescue operation, Chang Zhigang, told reporters.

Crews were using extreme caution to avoid more secondary disasters, Mr Chang said.

“We will continue to increase the rescue force, race against time, and do our best to search and rescue the lives of every trapped person,” he said.

Police are investigating the cause of the collapse and some people have been detained.

“We will publicise the result of the investigation in due course,” Mr Chang said.

The initial cave-in of one of the pit’s walls occurred at about 1 pm on Wednesday, local time, burying people and mining trucks below in tonnes of rocks and sand.

It was followed about five hours later by the additional landslide, forcing suspension of the rescue work.

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China’s official Xinhua News Agency said about 900 rescuers with heavy equipment were on the scene and they had resumed the search by Thursday morning.

Inner Mongolia is a key region for the mining of coal as well as various minerals and rare earths that, critics say, has ravaged the region’s landscape of mountains, grassy steppes and deserts.

The mine, once underground, was converted to an open-pit operation in 2012, according to state media.

It had suspended production for three years before restarting in April 2021, state media said, without specifying the cause of the closure.

China overwhelmingly relies on coal for power generation, but has tried to reduce the number of deadly mine accidents through a greater emphasis on safety and the closure of smaller operations that lacked necessary equipment.

Authorities ordered mines in several major mining regions to conduct safety inspections after the Alxa League accident.

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