44 Dead, 21 Trapped in China Mine Blast

By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 21, 2009 8:03 PM CST
In this Nov. 30, 2007 file photo, miners shovel coal at a mine in Xiahuayuan county, north China's Hebei province.   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty, File)
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(Newser) – At least 44 miners were killed and 21 remained trapped underground after a gas blast ripped through a coal mine in northern China. The official Xinhua News Agency said the pre-dawn blast occurred while 436 workers were in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao city near Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province.

The Shanxi Jiaomei Group is China's largest producer of coking coal, with 28 mines. Although China has worked to cut mine accidents by closing more than a 1,000 small, dangerous mines last year, the country's mining industry is still the world's deadliest. About 3,200 workers died in accidents last year.