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. Coal Mine Blast Kills 23 In North China

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by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Feb 02, 2006
A gas explosion killed 23 workers in a state-owned coal mine in northern China, and more than 50 miners suffered carbon monoxide poisoning, state media and officials said Thursday.

The powerful blast ripped through the Sihe Coal Mine, in Shanxi province, at about 7:00 pm (1100 GMT) Wednesday, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing local coal mine authorities.

"Twenty-three were killed," Fan Yongming, an official at state-run Jincheng Mining Group, which runs the mine, told AFP.

At the time of the blast, nearly 700 miners were working underground, and 53 of them were hospitalized with carbon monoxide poisoning, according to Xinhua, which said one was in a serious condition.

Eight remained hospitalized Thursday, Xue Junzheng, an official at the mine, told AFP.

Search and rescue efforts in the mine were completed by early Thursday morning, Xinhua reported.

China has the world's most dangerous coal mining industry, with mine operators and local government officials often ignoring safety standards in search of quick profits.

Coal mining production continues to surge, and goes on, even as the rest of the nation celebrates the week-long traditional Lunar New Year, with the country reliant on coal for 70 percent of its energy needs.

"The miners had had four days off for the Lunar New Year," said Xue. "Wednesday was their first day back at work."

He said the coal mine's ventilation system had been operating throughout the holiday period, and that gas density and equipment had been checked before the miners returned, with no problems discovered.

China's national safety administration reported last month that 5,986 workers died in the nation's coal mines in 2005.

Labor rights groups, such as the Hong Kong-based China Labour Bulletin, say the number of mining deaths could be as high as 20,000 each year as mine owners and operators cover up accidents to avoid costly shut-downs and fines.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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China To Close 4,000 Small Coal Mines Annually
Qitaihe, China (SPX) Dec 12, 2005
China will shut down 4,000 small coal mines annually in the forthcoming three years, said Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety Supervision on Saturday.

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