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Chronology: Major mining disasters

Working as a coal miner is a dangerous job. History shows that after explosions, collapses or flooding, there is often no way to save miners trapped underground.

Severe mining accidents can happen anywhere people dig for coal or other resources underground. Chinese miners are particularly vulnerable because of inadequate security measures and poor training. But severe mining accidents also occur elsewhere in the world.

August 2010: A seismic disturbance buried 33 miners in a Chilean copper and gold mine in the Atacama desert. It took rescue workers two weeks of drilling to first reach the men, who were trapped 700 meters below the surface. In order to survive, the miners were supplied with essentials via a smaller tunnel until they could be rescued via a larger tunnel. The miners spent 69 days underground, and the dramatic rescue operation became a worldwide media event.

San Jose miners underground, looking into a camera. (Photo: EPA/GOVERNMENT HANDOUT)

The trapped miners in Chile became world famous following their ordeal

June 2010: A methane gas explosion caused the partial collapse of a coal mine south of Medellin, in Columbia. At least 73 people were killed. High concentrations of methane and carbon monoxide in the facility made the rescue operation difficult, and the first bodies were recovered after nine days. The mine's safety measures had been checked a week before the disaster, and it was found to be lacking gas detectors and a proper ventilation system.

May 2010: Two methane gas explosions killed 73 people in a coal mine in western Siberia. At least 16 miners remained missing. The two explosions happened two hours apart, and rescue workers were in the mine when the second - much stronger - explosion occurred. More than 280 miners survived the accident.

May 2009: A fire broke out in a South African coal mine southwest of Johannesburg, killing 82 illegally working miners.

December 2007: A gas explosion in a coal mine in northern China killed 105. It was reported that most of the victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

November 2007: A methane gas explosion at a depth of 1,078 meters (3,536 feet) in a coal mine near the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk resulted in the death of 100 miners. At the time of the disaster, 457 miners had been underground. More than 350 miners - some with serious injuries - were rescued.

Rescue workers carrying parts into a collapsed mine in China. (Photo: picture-alliance/ dpa)

Accidents are a regular occurence in China's mines

August 2007: The bursting of a dam flooded a coal mine in the eastern Chinese province of Shandong. More than 170 trapped workers are killed.

February 2005: In China's worst mining disaster in decades, at least 214 miners died following an earthquake and a gas explosion 242 meters underground in the northeastern province of Liaoning. Twenty-nine miners were taken to the hospital with broken bones, gas poisoning and burns.

March 2000: At least 80 miners died after a methane explosion in a mine in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine.

1992: 263 miners are killed in an accident in the Turkish coal mining district of Zonguldak, near the Black Sea.

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