[U: Nine Bodies Recovered] Eleven Gold Miners In China Are Rescued; Ten Still Unaccounted For — And Over 580 Dead In 2020 Overall In Chinese Mining Accidents.

This “eleven rescued” news is good, to be sure — as these miners last saw sunlight, on the morning of January 10, China time. [Updated, on Monday: sadly the other nine bodies have been found. The tenth was documented to have been standing at the “zero” site of the explosion, and thus his remains are. . . unrecoverable. This is immensely sad — but as I expected would be the case. End of update.]

They’d been under about a half-mile of rock for two solid weeks — without much food, even less clean water. . . in what we call “very bad air“. Sadly, I think it is highly likely that the remaining ten are already dead, and/or their bodies. . . will never even be recovered, given the severity of the explosion and resulting rib and back collapse. But to be clear, that is solely my experienced conjecture, here — looking at the mine maps, and the source(s) of the explosion(s).

We will hold a very good thought for them, just the same — and for their families. More than most, I do know what it is like to be that deep (or even a mile and a half deep), in a sweltering drift, in hip deep hot water. . . and yet gasping for the thinly-oxygenated air. . . under the mineral belt. And I know what it is like to have relatives trapped deep in such a black mine shaft. . . hoping for a rescue. Here is NPR’s reporting:

. . .China’s mines are among the most dangerous in the world. In December, 23 miners died after a carbon monoxide leak at a mine in the southwest city of Chongqing. Three months before that, 16 miners died in a similar accident in the city. For all of 2020, China recorded 434 mining accidents and 573 mining-related deaths, according to the country’s National Mine Safety Administration. . . .

This is not a uniquely Chinese failure of safety. Inside the US, OSHA mining regulations were under attack by lobbyists primarily for the dirty coal and oil and gas industries. . . and many of those attacks, at least for the last four years, succeeded. It is time for mine owners who make hundreds of billions, industry wide. . . to get very serious, globally — about miner safety, and miner retirement pay, and retiree health benefits — when, as it nearly-always does. . . gray-, or black- lung disease comes a-calling, in their later years.

Onward, as the heaviest bands of snow are now forming, out to the west. . . rolling down off of those same Rockies I mined deep beneath. . . smile.


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