At least 25 die in China coal mine fire; 3 trapped

AP News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2010 2:49 AM

A fire in a coal mine in central China killed at least 25 workers, and search efforts continued for at least three others trapped underground, state media reported Wednesday.

The Xinhua News Agency said underground cables caught fire Tuesday afternoon at the Lisheng coal mine in Xiangtan city in Hunan province.

The owner of the mine and a senior employee were detained, Xinhua said.

Sixteen more bodies were recovered Wednesday about 1,770 feet (540 meters) below the surface, bringing the death toll to 25, it said.

More than 70 workers were underground when the fire started and 43 managed to escape, it said. Rescue workers were searching for the remaining miners, who were thought to be on another mining platform at least 2,000 feet (600 meters) underground, Xinhua said.

The fire was extinguished and the ventilation system was restored Tuesday, so there was a chance that they were still alive, it said.

China's mining industry is the world's deadliest, with most accidents blamed on poor safety as enterprises scramble to feed the country's voracious demand for coal. In November, 108 miners were killed in a coal mine blast in northeast China. It was the country's deadliest mining accident in two years.