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Scores missing after large mine collapse in China

Published on 2023-06-04 15:15:47 source:NBC News

At least four people have died and 49 more are missing after a mine collapsed in China's northern Inner Mongolia region on Wednesday.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping ordered a search and rescue operation which has so far found six survivors in the open-pit mine at Alxa League.

But desperate efforts to retrieve others were temporarily disrupted by two landslides.

It is not yet clear what caused the slope at the mine to give way.

More than 900 rescue workers had been deployed to the scene, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Xi has instructed authorities to make "every possible effort" to find survivors.

Wei Zhiguo, leader of the rescue mission, said the operation had been interrupted by a "large landslide" on Wednesday evening. This had halted some search efforts overnight, which were also hampered by a second landslide later in the day.

"The rescue work is being carried out in an orderly and tense manner," he told state broadcaster CCTV.

Police told CCTV that an investigation was underway, and that the relevant persons have been "controlled".

The mine collapsed around 13:00 local time (0500 GMT) on Wednesday, burying more than 50 workers. It affected a "wide area", authorities said.

The collapse left a pile of debris roughly 500m (1,640ft) across and an estimated 80m high.

CCTV reported the shaft had been operated by the Xinjing Coal Mining Company, which has not issued a statement yet.

Mines in China's Inner Mongolia region are some of China's top coal producers. Chinese mines have also been trying to boost output over the past year in a bid to boost supplies and lower prices.

Accidents are not uncommon in China, where industrial safety regulations can be poorly enforced. In December 2020, 23 miners died after a carbon monoxide leak at a coal mine. And in January 2021, 10 miners were killed in a blast at a gold mine in Shandong province.

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