Rescue workers head to the site of a coal mine accident in Chongqing, southwest China, on Friday.
Twenty-three people died after being trapped in a mine in China’s southwestern city of Chongqing, rescuers said on Saturday, the region’s second such accident in just over two months.
The dead were among 24 people trapped underground by excessive levels of carbon monoxide gas at the Diaoshuidong coal mine, the local emergency rescue command headquarters said, adding that one survivor had been rescued, after more than 30 hours of search and rescue efforts.
Friday’s incident, which occurred at about 5pm in a mine shut for more than two months as the company dismantled underground equipment, is being investigated, it added.
China on Sunday ordered local authorities to “resolutely take decisive measures to effectively stop major accidents in coal mines from happening,” according to a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Emergency Management.
Officials from the Work Safety Committee of the State Council on Sunday held talks with the Chongqing government following Friday’s accident and another major accident that happened in September.
A total of 16 people were killed in the coal mine on September 27 after a conveyor belt caught fire and the resulting blaze produced dangerous levels of carbon monoxide at the Songzao coal mine in Chongqing.
Huang Yuzhi, head of the National Coal Mine Safety Administration, led the talks and urged the local authorities to thoroughly analyze the causes of the accidents and take effective measures to curb the frequent occurrence of accidents and disasters.
State Council officials also urged the Chongqing government to launch a comprehensive safe production check on all coal mines, and eliminate outdated production capacity in an orderly and safe manner, the statement said.
According to local emergency authorities, Diaoshuidong, built in 1975 and run since 1998 as a private enterprise, is a high-gas mine with annual capacity of 120,000 tons of coal. In 2013, three people were killed and two injured in a hydrogen sulphide poisoning incident at the mine.