Shanxi coal mine explosion kills 17, traps 52
Seventeen miners were confirmed dead and more than 50 were trapped underground after a powerful gas explosion at a coal mine in northern China.
The blast occurred around noon on Saturday at the Xishui colliery at Shuozhou city in Shanxi province, ther State Administration of Work Safety said. The explosion also damaged nearby Kangjiayao mine, causing a shaft wall to collapse and trapping more than 20 miners underground,
Four owners of this coal mine have been detained by police for investigation, Xinhua reported. Xishui Colliery is a legally-operated mine, with an annual output of 150,000 tons of coal.
Shanxi province is China's leading coal producing area and its government published regulations earlier this month requiring coal mine officials to carry out regular underground inspections at specified intervals.
In China, more than 6,000 miners died in accidents last year.
On Friday, 19 coal miners were confirmed dead after an explosion the day before at the Sulongsi mine in Fengjie county of southwestern Chongqing municipality.
In the worst mining accident in China's recent history, 214 miners were killed after a gas blast on February 14 at the Sunjiawan pit in Fuxin city in northeastern Liaoning province.
Earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to spend 3 billion yuan (US$362 million) on a safety overhaul of state-owned coal mines, saying officials must learn "a bitter lesson" from the heavy human losses.
"We must have a strong sense of responsibility to the people and truly make coal mining safer," said Wen in a work report to the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress.
In an attempt to tackle the industry's appalling safety record, the State Development and Reform Commission said 11 ministries and institutes under the central government have established a coordination office to oversee safety assessments for mines across China.
But China's economic boom has fueled a heavy demand for energy and the country's mines work well over capacity as coal prices have sky-rocketed.
Crucial parts of the country are facing power shortages exacerbated by 20 years of robust economic growth.