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Six survive gas blast in Hunan mine

(China Daily)

08:18, October 31, 2011

BEIJING - An explosion at a coal mine in Central China on Saturday killed 29 miners. It was the second major accident at a Chinese colliery in three days.

Thirty-five people were working underground when the explosion occurred just after 6 pm on Saturday.

Rescuers pulled five miners from the pit alive and one miner managed to make his way to the surface on his own, according the State Administration of Work Safety.

The authorities wound up rescue operation on Sunday morning after the last of the 29 bodies was recovered at Xialiuchong Coal Mine, which is located in Hengshan county in Hunan province.

More than 40 rescuers in four brigades were involved in the rescue efforts.

The explosion was caused when underground mining equipment created a spark that ignited gas in the shaft, according to Song Yuanming, head of the administration of coal mine safety in Hunan.

However, the mine was operating illegally, as its safety license had been revoked in the first half of this year because it failed to take precautions to prevent gas blasts, Song added.

Local authorities should have stopped the operation of the mine after the withdrawal of its safety license, said Luo Lin, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, who arrived at the colliery from Beijing.

"Now it will have to bear the cost of illegal mining," he said.

In addition, investigators found that the mine chief had not organized a timely evacuation, said Luo.

According to the State Administration of Work Safety, rescuers were still struggling to reach four missing miners after an explosion at a coal mine in Jiaozuo city, Henan province, on Thursday in which 14 miners died and five were injured.

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