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Shanxi mine blasts kill 24, trap 23 others
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-20 08:56

A coal mine explosion in Jiaokou, North China's Shanxi Province on Tuesday killed 18 people and injured one.

Another 15 are still missing.

Earlier that day, another coal mine accident in Shanxi's Shuozhou claimed six people and trapped eight, said Shanxi provincial government officials.

Rescue operations are underway. Causes have not been fully disclosed.

The collapse of the Caijiagou mine in Jiaokou, a county of Luliang, occurred at around 6 pm on Tuesday, when 34 miners were working underground.

More than 70 rescue workers were dispatched, said Xinhua News Agency, and a rescue team led by local authorities was set up immediately after the incident.

According to Xinhua, the accident may have been triggered by a gas blast.

The mine was devastated so seriously that rescue workers could hardly make their way ahead in it.

It was also full of dense gas and miners were allegedly stuck at a dozen of spots.

Jiaokou, a county with a population of 97,000 in central Shanxi, abounds with coal and many other mineral resources.

The involved Caijiagou mine, with an annual production capacity of 20,000 tons, is owned by a village but actually run by individuals.

Xinhua reported it was put into operation without permission from supervisory departments.

The manager of the mine, who was not on the spot when the accident occurred, was taken into custody by local police.

Of the 34 miners involved, 28 are from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, while the other six are local.

The other accident in northern Shanxi's Shuozhou happened a few hours after midnight on Tuesday.

According to Wang Xiaodong, an official with the city's safety supervision administration, the accident was caused by short-circuit in a transformer.

A rescue team was established soon after the incident and two medical groups were sent to the site.

Meanwhile, Wang said those stuck in the mine were in great danger, because the place was filled with toxic gas such as carbon monoxide.

"In addition, those still alive may find the rather high temperatures unbearable," he added.

Shuozhou also has many coal mines.

Wang said the mine, run by a township, had been producing coal legally.

Among the six victims is the deputy head of the mine.

The Shanxi provincial safety supervision administration said it still has to decide whether to order all coal mines in Shuozhou and Luliang to cease production or whether to launch checks on their security facilities.

In a coal mine accident in Xixian county in Shanxi last month, 36 miners were killed.

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