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29 February 2024

Blast in China coal mine kills more than 70

Rescue workers carry a body of a victim of a blast in a coal mine in north China's Shanxi Province. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

A blast in a coal mine killed 73 miners in China's Shanxi province on Sunday, leaving 65 trapped underground from where they used mobile phones to contact their relatives, Xinhua news agency reported.

It said 436 miners were working underground when the accident occurred at Shanxi Jiaomei Group's Tunlan mine in Gujiao City near Taiyuan, the provincial capital.

A rescuer said some of the trapped miners had managed to phone their relatives. No other details were available.

The gas explosion happened the day after senior provincial officials held a conference about mine safety, in which they pledged to try to put an end to deadly mining accidents.

China's mining industry is the world's most dangerous.

A total of 3,786 coal miners died in gas blasts, floodings and other accidents in 2007 as companies, often flouting safety regulations, rushed to feed demand from a booming economy.

The number of deaths fell to 2,690 in the first 10 months of 2008 after thousands of small unsafe mines across the country were closed.

China is continuing to push for the closure of small mines, many of which are struggling to remain open because demand from the electricity and steel sectors, their main customers, has slumped in recent months.

The mine where Sunday's blast took place produces coking coal for the steel industry and can produce 5 million tonnes a year, Xinhua said.