BEIJING (AP) — An initial investigation into China's worst mine accident in nearly three years blames "chaotic" management for sending too many workers underground and disregarding safety measures, state media said Sunday. The blast killed 43 people.
The official Xinhua News Agency said that though the Xiaojiawan coal mine in southwestern Sichuan province was licensed to operate, it had been exceeding its production capacity in violation of safety standards.
Rescuers were still searching for three miners who remained trapped underground after the explosion on Wednesday afternoon in the coal-rich city of Panzhihua, but their chances of survival were slim. State media said the three workers were believed to be located at the center of the blast.
A preliminary probe found that the accident happened because production had not been stopped despite a high density of gas and that safety monitoring equipment was inadequate, Xinhua said.
More miners had been sent to work underground than were allowed to, the report cited the head of the State Administration of Work Safety, Yang Dongliang, as saying.
Police have detained the mine owners, and the Sichuan government has launched a province-wide safety check on all coal mines and pledged to shut down those with safety hazards.
There were 154 miners working at the mine when the explosion occurred, and 108 survivors have been pulled to the surface.
It is China's deadliest mine accident since November 2009 when 108 people were killed in an explosion in a mine in Heilongjiang province.