The Global Report

Deaths in China coal mine accident

Added under Labor

At least 21 miners have been killed, with 16 more trapped underground, in a coal mine in China's central Henan province after an accident, state media has reported.

The accident happened on Saturday when the mine in the city of Yuzhou was hit by a "gas outburst", Xinhua news agency said.

Rescuers have located the trapped miners about 50 to 80 meters below the pit entrance but must clear tonnes of coal dust from the mine shaft to reach them, the agency cited a rescue spokesman as saying.

"The thick dust in the shaft is hampering the rescue. We must clear the dust first," Du Bo, an engineer for one of the mine's parent companies, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

He said more than 2,500 tonnes of coal dust had smothered the pit after the gas leak, suffocating most of the victims.

More than 70 rescuers working in shifts at the scene also must clear chunks of coal loosened by the blast that fell into the shaft, Xinhua said.

The gas that caused the blast was not specified, but methane is a common cause of mine blasts, and coal dust is also explosive.

The Henan mine is jointly owned by China Power Investment Corp - a major state-owned power producer - and another firm, Xinhua news agency said.

The China blast comes shortly after the world was riveted by Chile's dramatic rescue of 33 trapped miners after they spent more than two months underground.

Sources: Al Jazeera

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