40 missing after landslide in Shaanxi

BEIJING • Around 40 people were missing in China after a landslide buried the living quarters of a mining company under one million cubic metres of earth.

The deluge shortly after midnight yesterday swallowed 15 employee dormitories and three residential houses in Shanyang county, in the northern province of Shaanxi, said an official at the county's propaganda office. Around 40 people were missing, said the official, who declined to be named.

Police, firefighters, mining rescuers and medical staff had been sent to the scene and residents in the area had been evacuated, the county government said in a statement.

The mine's operator was identified by news agency Xinhua as Wuzhou mining company, which, according to its parent company, is mainly a producer of vanadium, a metal added to steel to make it tougher and lighter.

Separately, an accident at a coal and gas mine on Tuesday night in the south-western province of Guizhou killed 10 people, the provincial work safety authorities said in a statement.

Rescue efforts were under way, the statement said yesterday.

Xinhua reported that 56 miners left the shaft safely after the accident, with five injured and three more still missing.

China - the world's largest producer of coal - is grappling to improve the standards in the industry, where regulations are often flouted and corruption enables employers to pursue profits at the cost of worker safety.

Accidents in Chinese coal mines killed 931 people last year, a top work-safety official said in March.

The official number of mining fatalities is declining but some rights groups argue that the actual figures are significantly higher due to under-reporting.

The country is also prone to landslides, often caused by floods, but with lax management of industrial sites sometimes also a factor.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2015, with the headline '40 missing after landslide in Shaanxi'. Print Edition | Subscribe