Archive for the ‘fatalities’ Category

China’s coal mines kill 3,786 in 2007

January 12, 2008

BEIJING (AP) – Accidents in China‘s notoriously dangerous coal mines killed nearly 3,800 people last year, state media reported Saturday — a toll that is a marked improvement from previous years, but still leaves China’s mines the world’s deadliest.

In this file photo originally released by China's official Xinhua ...
In this photo released by China’s official Xinhua news agency, a trapped miner is taken to ambulance at the Yangchong Iron Mine in Fanchang County, east China, on Sunday Dec. 16, 2007. Six trapped miners were rescued after the mine collapsed in east China’s Anhui Province earlier in the week, Xinhua said. Accidents in China’s notoriously dangerous coal mines killed nearly 3,800 people last year, state media reported Saturday, Jan. 12, 2008, a toll that is a marked improvement from previous years, but still leaves China’s mines the world’s deadliest.
A total of 3,786 were killed in mining accidents in 2007 — 20 percent lower than the 2006 toll, indicating the effectiveness of a safety campaign to shut small, illegal mining operations and reduce gas explosions, the Xinhua News Agency quoted the head of China’s government safety watchdog as saying.Coal is the lifeblood of China’s booming, energy-hungry economy. The mining industry’s safety, which has never been good, has often suffered….

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Vietnam Begins Enforcing Helmet Law, Motorcyclists Comply But Not Without Gripes

December 15, 2007

HANOI, VIETNAM: Vietnamese police began enforcing a much disliked helmet law Saturday (15 Dec), but nearly all motorcyclists complied by donning their shiny new protective headgear, dubbed “rice cookers,” to avoid hefty fines.
Just a day earlier, only a handful of riders were seen wearing helmets on the streets of Hanoi, but police were out in force on nearly every street corner Saturday to ensure the law was strictly enforced.

“This morning we fined only two motorcyclists,” said police officer Nguyen Van Cai, who added that most Vietnamese would rather comply than pay the steep 150,000 dong (US$9.40) fine. “It will definitely help to reduce traffic fatalities.”

Nearly 13,000 people were killed on Vietnam’s roads last year — one of the world’s highest rates. Most accidents involve the ubiquitous motorbike, the country’s main form of transportation. More than 20 million motorbikes cram Vietnam’s busy streets daily, and every year about 2 million new bikes join the roads, along with a growing number of automobiles.

A similar helmet law was imposed in 2001, but failed to stick when angry riders protested.

Enforcement of the new law did not come without grumbling. Many argued that the bulky helmets, jokingly called “rice cookers,” would be too hot, unfashionable and hard to carry.

“It’s not necessary in the city. I think the risk of having an accident is very slim, and if you do have one, I don’t think you will get hurt,” complained motorbike taxi driver Tran Binh Minh, who now is forced to carry two helmets, one for himself and one for his passenger.

“In the summer the temperature goes up to 38 degrees (Celsius, or 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Can you imagine how people will deal with that?” he said.

For months, Vietnamese have been bombarded by public awareness campaigns to explain the need for the law. One television commercial showed grainy black-and-white footage of patients hospitalized with head injuries, some drooling in a vegetative state and others paralyzed or unable to feed themselves.

Vietnam’s traffic fatality rate is about 27 per 100,000 — nearly double that in the United States — and is among the highest globally, according to the World Health Organization.

Vietnam’s main helmet producer, run by U.S.-based nonprofit Protec, has been working 24 hours a day for three months to churn out 5,000 helmets daily. (By MARGIE MASON/ AP)

October 3, 2007By MARGIE MASON
AP Medical Writer

Vietnam has one of the world’s highest traffic fatality rates, with nearly 13,000 deaths recorded last year alone _ the majority involving the ubiquitous motorbike. Few people bother with helmets, saying they are hot, bulky and unfashionable. But as of Dec. 15, everyone will be required to don the so-called “rice cookers” as the government enforces a new law intended to save lives.

The Health Ministry kicked off a traffic safety campaign Wednesday to raise awareness before the new rules take effect.

“It’s not only the deaths, it’s the tens of thousands of injuries. Some people become like vegetables,” said Jean-Marc Olive, World Health Organization representative in Vietnam. “Also what is quite sad is that the major proportion of accidents occur in young adults.”

More than 20 million motorbikes cram Vietnam’s busy streets on an average day, and their numbers are growing as the country becomes wealthier. The roads are also some of the most hazardous on earth. Few drivers look before pulling into traffic. Speeding, weaving, underage driving and drunk driving are common.

Vietnam’s traffic fatality rate is about 27 per 100,000 _ nearly double that of the United States and among the highest in the world, according to WHO.

But those statistics mean little to most motorbike commuters in Hanoi.

“It is an unenforceable law. Wearing helmets in cities is ridiculous,” said Nguyen Tung Anh, 21, a student in Hanoi. “It will reduce drivers’ vision, hearing and it is not suitable for the weather conditions here.”

For those who need more convincing, Dr. Vu Hong Phong says perhaps a visit to Viet Duc Hospital would work. As the chief neurosurgeon there, he races in and out of surgery every day trying to salvage what’s left of motorcyclists who slam their heads onto the pavement without helmets.

“The problem is getting worse and worse,” Phong said. “The number of deaths I’ve seen over the past several years has increased too much and I feel very sad about that.”

He lectures surviving patients and their families about the importance of wearing helmets but said his advice is heeded only about half the time, even among those who narrowly escape death.

In the head trauma ward, blood fills cotton stuffed into patients’ ears as loved ones massage limp arms and legs. Some victims thrash in pain, their arms and legs tied to bed rails. Others lie still, their heads swollen and bruised. Tubes and machines keep them alive.

“He is in a coma and there is blood on his brain,” said Dang Thi Tu, standing over her 21-year-old son, Cong. He was driving home from a wedding when he hit a rock in the road and lost control of his bike. She wishes now that his head had been protected.

“He was only a few kilometers from home, and he didn’t wear a helmet.”

Currently, helmets are only required on highways outside cities where fines the equivalent of $1.25 are levied on violators. All government employees have also been required to wear helmets since last month.

Government officials are discussing whether to raise the fine when the new law kicks in. Helmets must also be certified with a stamp verifying they meet Vietnamese safety standards.

But enforcement will be tough. When Vietnam tried to impose a helmet law in 2001, angry drivers protested and the government backed down. Some say they will only abide this time if forced.

“I cannot imagine myself wearing trendy clothes together with a helmet,” said Le Tra My, 18, who was shopping for hats at an upscale store in Hanoi. “It will look awful.”

172 Miners Perish in China; Families Told Nothing

August 20, 2007

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 20, 2007

BEIJING, Aug. 20 — Hopes dwindled fast Monday for the lives of 172 miners blocked deep underground more than three days ago by floodwaters that filled a coal shaft in eastern China.

Officials estimated 12 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Zhangzhuang Mine, in Shandong province 300 miles southeast of Beijing, after hard rains caused the Chaiwen River to burst through an earthen levee Friday afternoon. Although they have repaired the levee and brought in eight pumps to suck out the mud and water, engineers said emptying the flooded shaft would take a number of days.

The accident, the latest in a long series of tragedies in Chinese mines, provided another dramatic example of China’s poor worker safety record, particularly in the booming coal industry. More than 2,800 miners were killed in underground explosions and floodings last year, making China’s mines the deadliest in the world. The highest known toll came from a gas explosion in a mine shaft in 2005 that killed 214 workers.

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Health and Public Policy: Older Auto Drivers Safer Than You Think

July 19, 2007

By John E. Carey
July 19, 2007

Let’s talk about older automobile drivers. Maybe it’s your Mom or Dad or Uncle Sam that shows signs of driving too slowly, running into things or having other difficulties handling a car.

What do you do and what are your responsibilities?

I’ve faced this dilemma three or four times already and here’s what experts say.Researchers at the Rand Institute for Social Justice found during a recent study a few interesting facts.

–Young drivers between 15 and 24 years old are three times as likely to cause car accidents as senior citizens.

–People over the age of 65 make up 15 percent of drivers but were responsible for only 7 percent of the 330,000 fatal two-car crashes in the past 25 years.

–Drivers up to age 24 represented 13 percent of drivers, but caused 43 percent of the accidents across the United States, they said.

–Younger drivers tend to use more dangerous and risky conduct behind the wheel.  Overloaded cars playing loud music, eating meals while driving, even playing with the radio and CD player are much more likely factors in the accidents of young drivers.

–Senior drivers were only 16 percent more likely to cause an accident than drivers between the ages of 25 and 64.

Ishani Ganguli of Reuters spoke to study participant David Loughan who said “(There is) pretty widespread public concern about the older drivers. (And) over the past 20 years, there been a strong trend to adopt more stringent licensing policies. The fact that older drivers are not that much riskier suggests that these policies are certainly questionable.”

And what about your nightmare that Mom might plow into a group of school children? The facts are that because of the frailty of the older persons body the person most likely to die or suffer serious injury is the senior driver. Cases of senior plowing their cars into groups, though well publicized, are very rare.

My friend Dave is 78 and he decided to drive less, stop driving at night altogether and stay out of uncomfortable situations like driving on the freeway. A lot of older drivers take actions like this voluntarily on their own or with a little encouragement.

But what happens when you see someone apparently unable to handle driving safely any more? Schedule a medical appointment. Experts say a family member should not risk alienating a loved one bt wrestling the keys away from them.  An eye exam or actual driving test might be in order too.

Have your M.D. give the loved one a reaction and driving capability test. If the older driver fails, the doctor should tell them they are no longer safe to drive.

But the findings suggested that senior citizens are choosing to drive less frequently or to stop altogether. Those who still get behind the wheel often play it safe — driving in daylight and avoiding dangerous conditions, Loughran said.

“On the one hand, requiring older drivers to take road tests, for example, would certainly identify some older drivers whose driving abilities have deteriorated unacceptably,” the researchers wrote.

Said David Loughran, “But our results suggest that there are relatively few older drivers who need to be legally prohibited from driving, so these drivers pose a relatively small risk to traffic safety overall.”

Armed with studies like this one it may be time to reassess the way we view and handle older drivers.