03242017Headline:

China: Death toll rises to seven after accident at coal mine

BAISHAN, CHINA (BNO NEWS) -- The death toll increased to seven on Tuesday after three people who were pulled from a coal mine in northeastern China have died at a local hospital, government officials said. More than a dozen people remain trapped inside the mine.

The accident, triggered by a coal and gas burst, occurred at around 6 a.m. local time on Monday when 116 people were working underground at the Jisheng Coal Mine in the city of Baishan, located in the northeastern province of Jilin. Ninety-five of them were able to escape safely.

Four bodies and four survivors were pulled from the mine by rescue workers on Monday, but three of them later died at a local hospital, raising the total death toll to seven, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. A spokesperson said rescue work is continuing for thirteen people who remained trapped on early Wednesday.

Provincial government officials have ordered a thorough safety check of the region's mines, but mines in China remain among the world's most dangerous with 1,083 fatalities recorded in the first seven months of 2011 alone. There were 2,433 fatalities in 2010 and 2,631 in 2009.

Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years, with the government shutting down scores of small mines to improve safety and efficiency. The country has also ordered all mines to build emergency shelter systems by June 2013 which are to be equipped with machines to produce oxygen and air conditioning, protective walls and airtight doors to protect workers against toxic gases and other hazardous factors.

The first manned test of such a permanent underground chamber was carried out in August when around 100 people - including managers, engineers, miners, medical staff, and the chamber's developers - took part in a 48-hour test at a mine owned by the China National Coal Group in the city of Shuozhou in northern China's Shanxi Province.

One of the worst mining accidents in China in recent years happened in November 2009 when 104 workers were killed after several explosions at a coal mine in Heilongjiang province.

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