BEIJING, Dec 9 (AFP): More than 150 Chinese coal miners were dead or missing Friday following three separate accidents in seven days, prompting renewed calls for better safety in the nation's notoriously dangerous industry.
The death toll from an explosion Wednesday at the Liuguantun colliery in the northern province of Hebei rose from 74 to 87, as rescuers continued their search for at least 21 other miners still unaccounted for.
Unsafe levels of gas in the collapsed shaft were severely hampering search and rescue efforts, a local official involved in the operation said.
"The biggest difficulty is that the gas density is so high," said an official with the Tangshan Coal Mine Safety Bureau surnamed Zhang.
"Right now, we're trying to improve ventilation and clean up the shaft in order to ensure the safety of the rescue teams."
In the central province of Henan, hopes were also fading for 42 workers who have been trapped since the Sigou mine in Xin'an county flooded Friday last week.