At least 16 killed in coal mine fire in southwest China

GUIZHOU, CHINA   -  At least 16 people were killed in a coal mine fire on Sunday in southwest China’s Guizhou province, local officials said. The fire broke out at the Shan­jiaoshu Coal Mine at around 8:10am (0010 GMT), the Pan­zhou City government said in a notice posted to its website on Sunday night. “It was pre­liminarily determined that the conveyor belt caught fire, caus­ing 16 people to be trapped,” it added, with no further details on what was damaged or how the fire began. Emergency per­sonnel extinguished the blaze and temperatures at the site returned to normal, but “af­ter preliminary verification, 16 people have no vital signs”, the notice said. The Panzhou City mine is about 3,600 kilo­metres (2,250 miles) south­west of the capital Beijing. China — the world’s biggest emitter of the pollutants driv­ing climate change — operates thousands of coal mines, even as Beijing has pledged to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. While safety standards in the country’s mining sec­tor have improved in recent decades, accidents still fre­quently plague the industry, often due to lax enforcement of protocols, especially at the most rudimentary sites. Last year, 245 people died in 168 accidents, according to offi­cial figures. An explosion at a coal mine in Shaanxi province in northern China last month killed 11 people, nine of whom were trapped inside.

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