Search suspended for more than 50 missing in China's open pit mine collapse
A brief video of the collapse posted on the website of the Beijing Times newspaper showed a massive wall of reddish dirt or sand rushing down a slope onto mining vehicles moving below.
The search for at least 50 people missing since an open pit coal mine collapsed in northern China has been suspended following an additional landslide at the gigantic facility, state media reported on Thursday.
At least two people were killed and six injured in Wednesday's disaster in the vast Inner Mongolia region's Alxa League. The number of missing has been put at between 50 and 53, with no word yet on their condition.
The official Xinhua News Agency said the landslide struck at 6.00 pm Wednesday, about five hours after one of the pit's walls caved in, burying workers and mining trucks under an estimated 10 million cubic metres (3.5 million tons) of sand and rock.
About 900 rescuers with heavy equipment had arrived on the scene, including a team from the Ministry of Emergency Management who have been devising a rescue plan, according to state media reports.
As of early Thursday, work remained suspended due to safety concerns, Xinhua said, and it remained unclear when it would resume.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded "all-out efforts in search and rescue" and for "ensuring the safety of people's lives and property and maintaining overall social stability".
The company running the mine, Inner Mongolia Xinjing Coal Industry Co Ltd, was cited and fined last year for multiple safety violations ranging from insecure access routes to the mining surface to unsafe storage of volatile materials and a lack of training for its safety overseers, according to the news website The Paper.
Inner Mongolia is a key region for mining of coal and various minerals and rare earths, which critics say has ravaged the original landscape of mountains, grassy steppes and deserts.
China overwhelmingly relies on coal for power generation but has tried to reduce the number of deadly mine accidents through a greater emphasis on safety and the closure of smaller operations that lacked necessary equipment.
Most mining deaths are attributed to explosions caused by the buildup of methane and coal dust, or to drownings caused when miners break into shafts that had been abandoned due to flooding.
China has recorded a slew of deadly industrial and construction accidents in recent months as a result of poor safety training and regulation, official corruption and a tendency to cut corners by companies seeking to make profits. The economy has slowed, partly as a result of draconian lockdowns and quarantines imposed under the now-abandoned "zero COVID" policy.