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North China blast kills 20 in illegal coal mine


Tokyo : A total of 20 people were killed following a blast in an illegal coal mine in north China’s Shanxi Province, state news agency Xinhua reported Monday, citing local authorities.

The blast occurred at around 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) Sunday at a coal mine in Linfen City, said Xinhua, adding that the rescue operation has been concluded.

It was not immediately known how many people were in the mine as the illegal mine’s foreman was killed in the blast, the report said. Police are trying to catch the organizers of the illegal mining activities.

According to Shanxi Work Safety Administration, the mine was opened in 2004 but has been closed for failing to meet safety requirements. Illegal miners took the opportunity afforded by heavy snow cutting the area off to sneak into the mine at about 7 p.m. on Sunday.

With booming demand and high coal prices, China has the world’s largest and deadliest mining industry and a number of its mines have reportedly pushed production beyond safety limits for higher profits.

Last year, 3,786 miners died in the nation, according to China’s top work safety agency. In the US and other developed countries, the annual death toll in coal mines is generally no higher than 40.