Silk and Dogs – Shanxi

Shanxi (Click to Download)

Today it was announced that 100 of the 153 miners trapped in the Wangjialing coal mine flood had been rescued, with a provincial party chief confident that more survivors would emerge over the day. China has one of the worst safety records for mining fatalities in the world, due to a combination of a lack of formalised safety checks, poor state and provincial regulation and the large number of illegal mining operations across the country. Shanxi province, one of the major mining centres in the People’s Republic, has seen three especially bad mining accidents in the last five years. In 2009, a  mine blast before dawn at Gujiao, left 74 dead and well over one hundred in hospital with serious injuries. This event saw the highest number of casualties since a gas blast outside Taiyuan killed a similar number in 2007 (exact figures for the number of dead and injured are often difficult to come by and, more often than not, woefully inaccurate). Wangjialing, with its seemingly successful rescue mission appears, thankfully, a comparatively safe operation.  Xinhua news agency reports that figures for the number of mining related accidents in China for the year ending 2008 had dropped 19%, but still stood at a frightening 413,700. These are the official numbers; the actual number of Chinese injured or killed each year, which go unreported, is much higher.

This track, the seventh part of the Provinces project, represents an audio interpretation of these three mining disasters.

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