Sunday, 6 July 2014

Seventeen miners missing after gas explosion at mine in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China.

Seventeen miners are missing after an explosion at a coal mine in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China on Saturday 5 July 2014. The incident occurred slightly before 8.45 am local time at a mine operated by the Dahuangshan Yuxin Coal Mining Co Ltd at Fukang about 120 km from Urumqi, the capitol of the  Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Twenty miners were thought to be working in the mine at the time of the blast, only three of whom have been accounted for, rescue attempts having apparently been hampered by the level of methane in the mine, which reportedly is being dealt with by pumping nitrogen into the mine to suppress any further explosions (which suggests that local authorities do not expect to find survivors, since neither methane nor nitrogen is breathable).

Rescue workers waiting to enter the Fukang coal mine. Xinhua.

Coal is formed when buried organic material, principally wood, in heated and pressurized, forcing off hydrogen and oxygen (i.e. water) and leaving more-or-less pure carbon. Methane is formed by the decay of organic material within the coal. There is typically little pore-space within coal, but the methane can be trapped in a liquid form under pressure. Some countries have started to extract this gas as a fuel in its own right. When this pressure is released suddenly, as by mining activity, then the methane turns back to a gas, expanding rapidly causing, an explosion. This is a bit like the pressure being released on a carbonated drink; the term 'explosion' does not necessarily imply fire in this context, although as methane is flammable this is quite likely.

The approximate location of the Fukang coal mine. Google Maps.

See also...


Twenty two miners are reported to have died, and another two have reportedly been injured, in an incident at the Nantong Mining...



Twenty-two miners are reportedly still trapped after a flood at a coal mine at  Dongshan in Yunnan Province on Monday 7 April 2014...



Six miners have been killed and a seventh injured following an explosion at the Hongxing Coal Mine in Pu'an County in Guizhou...


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