Chinese coal mines are having a banner year. According to the Chinese government statistics, 5,286 coal miners died in accidents between January and November of this year. That is an average of 15.83 deaths per day, which sounds pretty bad. However, this is 451 fewer deaths than in the same period of 2003, and it's within their officially forecast target. So this is really good news - unless you happen to be a Chinese coal miner. The Financial Times reports:
It was business as usual in the world's deadliest mining industry yesterday. Fourteen miners were killed in a coal mine gas blast in China's western province of Sichuan. Only three survived.
The deaths in the county of Xingwen are the latest sorry addition to the appalling safety record of China's coal industry, which provides most of the fuel for the country's booming economy. Just last month 166 people died in a blast in northern Shaanxi province; in October, 146 were killed in an explosion in central Henan province.
Despite the remorseless rise in the death toll, 2004 is likely to prove a better year than most for China's army of coal miners...
Chinese miners learn to live with danger [FT.com, Dec. 21, 2004]
Down and dangerous [economist.com, Dec. 2, 2004]
Miners die as China barons profit [reuters]
Chinese coal mine blast kills 14 [bbc]