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Miners trapped in China blast

BBC News Online, 6 November 2000

Thirty-one coal miners are trapped underground following a gas explosion in north-east China.

Two people have been rescued and an operation to retrieve the others is underway. It is not known if they are dead or alive.

Most mines have poor communication and safety equipment. The blast happened at the Xian mine in Jilin province on Sunday, but was only reported in the media on Monday.

China is the world's largest consumer and producer of coal, but its miners pay a heavy price.

Some reports say an average of 10,000 are killed in accidents every year. Thousands more are maimed or die from lung cancer.

Many mines are situated in mountain areas with poor communication facilities and lack adequate fire-fighting and ventilation equipment.

In September, a huge gas explosion at a coal mine killed 160 people in south-west Guizhou province in one of the worst accidents reported in recent years.

Last month, 25 people were killed in an explosion at a mine in north-west Gansu province.

And on Friday a fire in another mine killed 13 people and injured 27 in Jiangxi province, southern China.