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Dozens trapped in China mine
Twenty-six rescued after explosion rips through coal mine in Henan province.
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2010 11:25 GMT

Dozens of people have been trapped after an explosion ripped through a coal mine in the central Chinese province of Henan.

The State Administration of Work Safety said the pre-dawn blast on Monday occurred in Pingdingshan city, with at least 46 miners trapped.

State television said a store of gunpowder kept underground at the mine had detonated at about 1.40am (17:40 GMT) with 72 miners working at the time.

At least 26 miners were brought to safety, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Although safety conditions have improved sharply in recent years, China's mining industry remains by far the world's deadliest, with accidents and blasts killing more than 2,600 miners last year.

Independent labour groups say the actual figure could be much higher as many accidents are covered up to avoid costly mine closures.

Zhao Tiechui, the head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said in February that China would need at least 10 years to "fundamentally improve" safety and reduce the frequency of such disasters.

"Awareness of safety and the rule of law is still low in some coal-rich areas and some coal enterprises," he said.

As part of its efforts to increase safety standards, the central government has imposed heavy fines and implemented region-wide mining shutdowns following serious accidents.

But such actions have resulted in the under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit economic losses, labour rights groups say.

Source:
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