21 killed, 16 missing in China mine blast

At least 21 workers were killed and 16 others trapped underground when a gas explosion hit a coal mine in China.

Beijing: At least 21 workers were killed
and 16 others trapped underground when a gas explosion hit a
coal mine in China`s central Henan province today, the latest
in a series of mishaps that have rocked the country`s mining
sector considered the most dangerous in the world.

The blast occurred in the mine situated in Yuzhou city
of the province at 6 am local time, the official Xinhua news
agency reported, quoting the rescue headquarters officials.

Rescuers retrieved 20 bodies till afternoon and were
searching for the trapped miners after "a sudden coal and gas
outburst" in the mine owned by Pingyu Coal and Electric
Company Limited, the National Work Safety Agency said.

A total of 276 miners were working underground when
the accident took place and 239 escaped.

More than 70 rescuers are working in shifts despite a
high density of gas underground, which is hindering the

The 16 miners have been located, but rescuers must
clear the coal dust from the shaft first. Ventilation has been
resumed in the pit, Xinhua reported.

An initial investigation showed that more than 2,500
tonnes of coal dust were in the pit after gas burst, said Du
Bo, an engineer with one of the mine`s parent companies.
Du said the accident occurred when workers were taking
measures to prevent gas bursts.

The same mine reported another gas and coal burst on
August 1, 2008, which left 23 miners dead.

Mine accidents have become very common in China
following immense demand for coal to back up energy demand.

China has recently announced new set of safety rules
asking the Mangers of the mines to accompany the miners during
the operations but the accidents continued unabated.

China`s mining industry is considered the most
dangerous in the world, with more than 2,600 workers killed in
accidents last year alone.

More than 1,000 small, illegal coal mines were shut
down this year as part of efforts to improve safety standards.


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