Seven workers were reportedly killed by an explosion at the Xiangzhong Coal Mine in Lianyuan, Hunan Province on Sunday 8 July 2012, according to news sources in China. The explosion occurred at 6.45 am local time, when 46 workers were in the mine, the other 39 reportedly escaping relatively unscathed. The Xiangzhong Coal Mine is a legally operating mine which produces around 60 000 tonnes of coal per year. No further details are available at this time, but an investigation is said to be under way by local authorities.
Gas explosions typically occur in mines when miners hit pockets of methane (CH₄), a highly flammable gas that is given off by coal under pressure. Typically when a seam containing pressurized gas is cut into it bursts, releasing the pressure and throwing large blocks of coal into the faces of the miners, often with fatal results. Thus although the gas involved is flammable it does not actually need to ignite to cause fatalities.
Woodcut of a mine gas explosion from Francis Rolt-Wheeler's 1922 book The Boy With the U.S. Miners. Project Gutenberg.
See also Miners trapped by flooding at Qielichong Coal Mine in Hunan Province, China, Human Rights Watch reports on mining in India, Cadmium spill on Longjiang River threatens water supplies to several Chinese cities, Acid spill from gold mine adds to Edith River's woes and At least 21 miners killed in mining disaster in Yunnan Province, China.
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