China has confirmed that no fewer than 53 people were killed when a coal mine partly collapsed in the northern Inner Mongolia region in February, according to state media.
Dozens of people had been missing after a 180-metre-high (590-foot) slope gave way at the open-pit mine in the remote Alxa League, burying people and vehicles below.
Rescuers initially pulled six survivors and six dead from the debris, but authorities did not provide further updates for months.
State broadcaster CCTV said Wednesday that 47 people classified as missing after the incident “had been confirmed to have no vital signs”, citing the regional emergency bureau.
“The search and rescue work has now finished,” CCTV said, adding that “the large-scale collapse on February 22… killed 53 people”.
In a sign of the incident’s severity, Chinese President Xi Jinping at the time ordered authorities to “do everything possible to search for and rescue the missing people… and protect the security of people’s lives and property as well as overall social stability”.
Authorities deployed hundreds of personnel and over 100 pieces of equipment as part of the rescue operation, according to local government statements.
Alxa League is a sparsely populated area whose economy runs largely on mining and other extractive industries.
Mine safety in China has improved in recent decades, as has media coverage of major incidents, many of which were once overlooked.
However, accidents still occur frequently in an industry where safety protocols are often lax, especially at the most rudimentary sites.