Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Fifteen killed in explosion at coal mine in Shanxi Province, China.

Fifteen coal miners have died and another nine have been injured in an explosion at an underground mine in Pingyao County in Shanxi Province, China. The incident happened at about 1.50 pm local time on Monday 18 November 2019, at the Feng Yan Group-operated mine. Another eleven miners who were below ground at the time of the incident were unharmed.

Rescue workers entering a mine in Pingyao County, Shanxi, following an explosion on 18 November 2019. Yang Chenguang/Xinhau.

Coal is formed when buried organic material, principally wood, in heated and pressurized, forcing off hydrogen and oxygen (i.e. water) and leaving more-or-less pure carbon. Methane is formed by the decay of organic material within the coal. There is typically little pore-space within coal, but the methane can be trapped in a liquid form under pressure. Some countries have started to extract this gas as a fuel in its own right. When this pressure is released suddenly, as by mining activity, then the methane turns back to a gas, expanding rapidly causing, an explosion. This is a bit like the pressure being released on a carbonated drink; the term 'explosion' does not necessarily imply fire in this context, although as methane is flammable this is quite likely.

 Rescue workers entering a mine in Pingyao County, Shanxi, following an explosion on 18 November 2019. Yang Chenguang/Xinhau.

Coal is also comprised more or less of pure carbon, and therefore reacts freely with oxygen (particularly when in dust form), to create carbon dioxide and (more-deadly) carbon dioxide, while at the same time depleting the supply of oxygen. This means that subterranean coal mines need good ventilation systems, and that fatalities can occur if these break down.

See also...

https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2019/11/third-case-of-plague-reported-in-china.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2016/12/explosion-kills-33-at-inner-mongolia.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/04/seven-confirmed-deaths-following-mine.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2014/04/seven-killed-by-landslide-in-shanxi.html
https://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-spread-of-deserts-in-northern-china.htmlhttps://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2013/10/ten-miners-killed-by-flood-at-coal-mine.html
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