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Coal mine explosion kills 24 people in China

The early morning gas blast happened at the Nanshan Colliery in Lingshi county.

india Updated: Nov 13, 2006 11:18 IST

A colliery explosion killed at least 24 miners in north China on Monday, state media said, the latest in a series of fatal disasters to hit the world's deadliest mining industry.

The early morning gas blast happened at the Nanshan Colliery in Lingshi county, Shanxi province, which Xinhua news agency blamed on the improper use of explosives at the village-run mine.

"The mine, whose safety licence has expired, had already been ordered to halt production," CCTV state television said, adding there were at least 34 miners underground at the time of the explosion.

The blast came just a week after an explosion killed dozens of miners in another part of Shanxi, which produces a quarter of China's coal, and prompted authorities to launch a coal mine safety overhaul in the province.

The death toll from the November 5 blast in Jiaojiazhai coal mine rose from 23 to 35 on Monday as 12 more bodies were found, CCTV said. Rescuers are still searching for 12 miners.

In July, a "coal dust" explosion killed more than 50 people at another mine in Lingshi county.

The almost daily series of accidents highlights China's uphill battle to clean up its mining industry while struggling to meet booming demand and high prices for coal, which fuels about 70 percent of its energy consumption.

In the rush for profits, safety regulations are often ignored, production is pushed beyond limits and dangerous mines that have been shut down are reopened illegally.

Floods, blasts and other accidents in China's coal mines killed 345 in October, 44 percent higher than the previous month, according to official figures.

Despite a 22 per cent decline in fatalities from a year earlier, 3,726 Chinese coal miners died in over 2,300 accidents in the first 10 months of 2006.

First Published: Nov 13, 2006 11:18 IST