July 20, 2005

Latest China coal mine blast kills 26

BEIJING (Reuters) - An explosion in a coal mine in northern
China has killed 26 people, state media said on Thursday, the
latest tragedy to strike the world's deadliest mining industry.

Forty miners were underground when the blast tore through
the No. 5 Coal Mine near Tongchuan in Shaanxi province on
Tuesday afternoon, the China Daily said.

"The ventilation system underground was damaged by the gas
blast and three tunnels caved in, which made it very difficult
for us to search for the missing miners," rescue worker Du
Shifu was quoted as saying.

Xinhua news agency said 26 were killed and the China Daily
said three miners were injured while 11 escaped unharmed.

Last year, more than 6,000 miners in China lost their lives
in explosions and other accidents.

Earlier this month, a gas explosion in the northwestern
region of Xinjiang killed 83 people.

China has vowed to clean up the hazardous industry, but
with the economy reliant on coal for more than 70 percent of
its energy needs, it has proved an uphill battle.

China produces about double the amount of coal official
media say it can safely mine.