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17 killed in underground blaze hell
By Zhu Zhe (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-08 05:41

Seventeen miners were killed and two injured following a fire caused by gas in North China's Shanxi Province, local coal mine safety officials confirmed yesterday.

The accident happened at 11:20 am on Tuesday in the second pit of the Zhike Township Coal Mine in Zhongyang County, located 240 kilometres from the provincial capital Taiyuan.

Rescuers rushed to the spot and recovered 17 bodies from the pit. Injuries showed that all the victims had burned or choked to death.

Only nine of the 26 miners working in the pit at the time survived the accident.

According to the Shanxi Provincial Administration of Coal Mine Safety, the mine's operations had been suspended because it failed to meet safety production standards. The owners had, however, secretly resumed operations without a safety permit.

Local police have detained six mine executives and the company's bank accounts have been frozen. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

Shanxi, China's leading coal producing province, has experienced 89 coal mine accidents claiming 316 lives in the first seven months of this year.

(China Daily 09/08/2005 page3)

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