15 Rescuers are fighting to extinguish a colliery fire, which has killed three coal miners and left 15 missing in Shanxi Province in northern China.

Author: Dorothy Kosich
Posted: Monday , 24 Sep 2007

RENO, NV - Three miners are dead and 15 are missing as rescuers try to extinguish a five-day old colliery fire at the Huquangou coal mine in Zuoyun County, Shanxi Province in north China.
Xinhua reported that 36 miners were working in the shaft when an underground cable caught fire late Wednesday night, and 18 miners escaped the fire. Rescuers found three bodies in the shaft Thursday morning while 15 remain trapped underground.
Wang Xingui, an official in charge of the rescue effort, said Sunday it is not clear whether the trapped miners are still alive, while the fire has not been extinguished.
Rescuers tried to enter the pit, but heavy smoke lowered their visibility, forcing them to retreat. They are now trying to determine other ways to extinguish the blaze, according to Wang.
Huquangou is a fully licensed coal mine, which produces between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of coal yearly
The Huquangou fire comes only five weeks after 181 miners died inside two mines in the Shandong Province on August 17, China's second worst coal mine disaster in modern history. On August 23, eight miners drowned during a water break at a coal mine in Panzhihua city, in Sichuan Province, while an August 24th gas explosion at the Xinglong Mine in Chongqing resulted in the deaths of seven miners. On August 25, a blast at the Liyuan coal mine in Huolin city, Inner Mongolia killed another seven miners.
Although China's State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) has enacted tougher coal mining safety regulations, it has not established a consistent and transparent enforcement network across the nation. The Energy Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, the regulator of the nation's energy sector, has initiated its own safety program to counteract the most deadly coal mine gas explosion accidents.