DARK CLOUDS - Life in China's industrial coal cities
Miners work 350 metres below the surface in the dark cavernous recesses of a mine shaft. The atmosphere is heavy with coal dust particles. Coal dust is responsible for the fatal respiratory illness known as black lung disease. Current figures state that there are over 600,000 miners with this disease and the figure is increasing annually by 70,000.
Over 6000 miners die annualy in coal mine accidents in the past few years. Many of China's coal mines have flammable gases that can cause explosions. Underground explosions are often blamed on a lack of ventilation equipment to remove gas that seeps from the coal bed. Shanxi, as one of China's oldest coal mining regions, could be a particularly risky place to work as miners must tunnel far underground to reach coal seams. Shanxi, China. 2006.