Perils of coal — a Chinese instance

Reuters: An explosion killed nine people at a coal mine in northern China, state media reported, just as the government ordered scores of pits to stay open to alleviate the country’s worst-ever power shortage. The blast happened on Saturday at a colliery in the coal-rich province of Shaanxi, the latest in a grim series of Chinese mining disasters.

Its timing highlighted the dilemma faced by Chinese authorities as they seek to ease a crunch in coal supplies that, exacerbated by a harsh winter, has left swathes of southern and central China blacked out. While ordering major state-owned mines to stay open through the Lunar New Year holidays, officials have said they would not boost output at the cost of safety. China’s mines are already the world’s deadliest, claiming some 3,700 lives last year alone….

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