Chinese Mine Explosion Kills 42, Traps 66

Gas buildup cited for blast at state-run mine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 21, 2009 5:46 AM CST
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, relatives of coal miners wait for information at the site of an explosion at the Xinxing Coal Mine in Hegang City, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009.   (Fang Baoshu)
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(Newser) – A gas explosion tore through a state-run coal mine in northern China on Saturday, killing 42 people and leaving 66 others trapped underground as rescuers worked hastily to save them. More than 500 people were working in the Xinxing mine in Heilongjiang province at the time of the 2:30am explosion. China Central Television reported that the explosion was caused by a gas buildup. The report said power, ventilation and communication links in the mine were cut by the explosion, hampering rescue efforts.

China's mines are the world's deadliest, and the blast shows the difficulties the government faces in trying to boost safety in an industry where large state-owned coal mines are considered safer than smaller, private ones. Miners' deaths have been cut in half since 1,000 dangerous small mines were closed last year, but in the first nine months of this year, there were still had 11 major accidents with 303 deaths.