At least 73 miners have been killed, and dozens more are trapped underground after an explosion at the Tunlan colliery in China’s main coal-producing province of Shanxi. More than 100 injured miners have been taken to hospital.
China is the world’s biggest producer of coal, with perhaps 5 million people working in the industry, but it also has the worst accident rate. Last year, the official death toll in the industry was 3,200, but many believe the true figure is much higher. In 2007, a Hongkong-based human rights organisation said it could be as many as 20,000.
The worst mining disaster in history happened in the Honkeiko colliery in the Chinese region of Manchuria in 1942, while it was occupied by the Japanese. An explosion killed more than 1,500 miners, about a third of those working in the pit at the time.