Maria Holland

Timely News

In Uncategorized on October 21, 2010 at 1:04 am

I know I haven’t been posting much on here.  I am very happy, though, that I have resumed my private journal semi-regularly!  I will probably not be writing a 700-page book this year, but you gotta start somewhere. 

There is a long list of half-baked post ideas, lists that I’ve started, and articles that I want to share, however.  They’ll come out slowly, or die a slow death of obsolescence.  One of the two. 

While this is still timely, have you heard about the recent mining disaster in China?  The successful rescue of the 33 Chilean miners was the highlight of my entire week, but then a much sadder story followed on its heels in China on the 17th.

Deadly Blast Traps Miners in China

YUZHOU, China (AP) — Frantically working rescuers feared the 11 Chinese miners trapped by a deadly gas blast may have suffocated or been buried by coal dust, as loved ones kept a vigil Sunday and the death toll rose to 26 with five more bodies recovered.

The Chinese mine drama unfolded as the world still was celebrating Chile’s successful rescue of 33 miners trapped for more than two months. Chinese media had detailed coverage as the Chilean men emerged to cheers.

Du Bo, deputy chief of the rescue headquarters, told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that hopes that the others were still alive after Saturday’s early morning blast were slim.

. . .

Two dozen police officers were stationed outside the mine’s main gate Sunday, preventing anyone from entering the site without authorization. About 50 of the trapped miners’ friends and relatives quietly waited outside, some of them tearful. Murmured discussion of the mine’s poor safety record could be heard.

One relative, He Qiaofei, the mother of a missing 20-year-old miner who has worked in the mine for about a year, expressed frustration about the mine.

"This place is not even safe," He said. "They don’t care about the workers’ safety, they only care about their production."

Two years ago, another gas blast at the same mine killed 23 people, state media said.

On Sunday, it wasn’t clear how far underground the workers were trapped in the mine in the city of Yuzhou, about 430 miles (690 kilometers) south of Beijing. The bodies of all 26 people confirmed dead have been recovered.

The gas level inside the mine was 40 percent, far higher than the normal level of about 1 percent, state media said.

China celebrated its own stunning mine rescue earlier this year, when 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground. The miners survived by eating sawdust, tree bark, paper and even coal. Some strapped themselves to the walls of the shafts with their belts to avoid drowning while they slept.

But it was a rare bright spot. About 2,600 people were killed in Chinese mining accidents last year, even as the country’s leaders have been making a high-profile push to improve mine safety.

Premier Wen Jiabao this summer ordered mining bosses into the shafts and pits with their workers or else risk severe punishment.

Mining fatalities decreased in recent years as China closed many illegal mines or absorbed them into state-owned companies, but deaths increased in the first half of this year. At least 515 people have been killed nationwide in coal mines alone so far this year, not including Saturday’s blast.

I guess there are some causes for hope.  The stifling of dissent, especially those potent forms such as “mourning loved ones”, is troubling, but I like the idea of those responsible for adherence to safety standards working in the mines. 

And, it hasn’t been 15 days yet. 

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