Two mining accidents claim 9 men in one day

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Monday proved a fateful day on Truot Mountain.

A rockslide killed three miners, shortly after a lightening bolt set off a series of demolitions charges, killing six others.

Tan Hoang An Company has yet to release any information regarding the cause of the rockslide.

Earlier that day, six other men from Quyet Tien Commerce Joint Stock Company and Cuong Thinh Mineral Exploitation Cooperative died after a lightening bold apparently set off a cache of explosives they had set aside for excavation purposes.

Colonel Ta Xuan Phuong, chief of Thuy Nguyen District police, told reporters from Dan Tri that the "rare" accident occurred around 10:20 a.m. near the Phap Co village, where a team of a dozen miners had set explosives to blast away parts of the mountain.

The explosion sent debris flying in all directions. Six men were killed on the spot. Four others were injured.

The explosives were supposed to go off at 11 a.m.

"At around 10 a.m., we had decided to take a break because some dark clouds had gathered overhead and the wind had picked up," Nguyen Tien Y, the brother of a deceased victim, told Tuoi Tre. "I heard a big thunder clap and then a series of explosions from the rock mines."

"When the explosions stopped, I rushed to look for my brother but they were carrying him down the mountain. His body was in pieces."

Nguyen Thi Tho, the widow of another victim, 41-year-old Hoang Van Binh, said her husband earned only VND100,000 (US$5) a day from the hard and life-threatening job, according to Tuoi Tre.

Binh's mother, Tu Thi Phat, said she has worried every day since her son took the job 20 years ago.

"Last year I asked him to stop because he was growing weak and the job remained dangerous," Phat said. "But he said he'd do another year until his son finishes high school."

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Phuong said the two companies are both operating on the mountain with permits. The companies had paid each victim's family VND100 million ($5,000).

Police are continuing to investigate the explosion. But they have not been able to get close to the accident site fearing unexploded ordnance.

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