Authorities say 11 people have been killed in a coal mine explosion in northern China, in a reminder of the country’s continued dependence on the energy source.
The blast occurred late Monday on the outskirts of the historic city of Yan’an in mountainous Shaanxi province, where mining has long been a key driver of the local economy.
A total of 90 miners were in the shaft at the time of the explosion, which is still under investigation, the provincial Department of Emergency Management reported on social media.
While swiftly adding wind and solar power, China remains dependent on coal for the bulk of its energy and is the world’s largest producer and consumer of the fuel source.
The accident was the deadliest since the February collapse of an open-pit mine in the northern region of Inner Mongolia that killed more than 50.
Officials as high as Chinese leader Xi Jinping have called for safety improvements, but that seems to have had a limited effect on mining operations that frequently cut corners while local officials turn a blind eye.
China has experienced a series of deadly industrial and construction accidents in recent months, often as a result of poor safety training and regulation, official corruption and corporate profit seeking.
Despite the high-profile incidents, the overall number of industrial accidents fell by 27% in 2022, when much of China’s economy was shut down under its “zero COVID” policy, the Ministry of Emergency Management reported. The number of deaths fell by 23.6%, the ministry said.