10172017Headline:

3 dead, 7 missing after NW China mine accident

ZHANGYE, CHINA (BNO NEWS) -- Rescue workers on Friday recovered the bodies of three workers who went missing at a coal mine in northwestern China when a platform overturned, local authorities said on Saturday. Seven other workers remain missing and are feared to have been killed.

The accident happened at around 6:56 p.m. local time on Thursday when a platform overturned at the Huacaotan coal mine near the city of Zhangye in Shandan County, which is located in the country's Gansu province. It caused a group of ten mine workers to fall about 200 meters (656 feet) to the bottom of the mine shaft.

The state-run Xinhua news agency said three bodies were recovered on Friday, but seven others remained missing on early Saturday as search-and-rescue operations continue. The coal mine is owned and operated by Zhangye Hongneng Coal Industry Ltd, according to the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety.

The deadly accident comes just days after the country's worst mine accident in nearly three years. The accident happened at around 6 p.m. local time on August 29 when a gas explosion occurred at the Xiaojiawan coal mine in Panzhihua City of Sichuan Province, killing 44 workers and leaving one person missing.

Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years but they remain among the world's most dangerous with 1,973 fatalities in 2011, down 19 percent from the previous year. The Chinese government reported 2,433 fatalities in 2010 and 2,631 in 2009.

China in recent years shut down scores of small mines to improve safety and efficiency in the mining industry. 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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