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Blast kills 15 miners in Central China
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-13 05:20

Fifteen miners were yesterday confirmed dead in a colliery gas explosion after the body of the last victim was recovered in Central China's Henan Province.

When the blast occurred at 6:30 pm on Friday, 41 of the 56 miners working underground at Malingshan Coal Mine in Dengfeng escaped to safety, a spokesman for the provincial coal industry bureau said.

The explosion was caused by the excessive concentration of poisonous gas in the mine, which belongs to Zhengzhou Coal Industry (Group), he added.

The group, which has an annual production capacity of 10 million tons, also exports to Japan and other Asian countries, according to its website.

In November 2004, a blast at Daping Coal Mine, which also belongs to the group, killed 147 workers, reports said.

The Chinese Government has made improving work safety a priority for years, but the results have fallen well short of its goals, experts said. For example, the number of fatalities in 3,306 coal mine explosions and accidents was 5,938, about the same as the 6,027 people killed in 2004, according to the State Administration of Work Safety.

Enforcement of improved work safety standards has proven difficult at the hundreds of thousands of small, locally-run mines, reports said.

Those mines produce 38 per cent of the country's total coal output but are responsible for three-quarters of all fatalities.

The government will spend 3 billion yuan (US$370 million) annually from 2006-07 to improve safety, according to State Administration of Work Safety.  

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