BEIJING: An explosion in a Chinese coal mine killed 20 and trapped more than 30 workers underground Saturday in the country’s central region, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The China blast comes shortly after the world was riveted by the Chile’s dramatic rescue of 33 trapped miners after they spent more than two months underground.
China Central Television said the blast happened Saturday morning in Henan province. An official surnamed Wu with the province’s coal mine safety bureau confirmed accident but had no details.
Xinhua cited mine officials in Yuzhou city as saying Saturday’s 6 a.m. blast happened in a pit owned by Pingyu Coal & Electric Co. Ltd.
A man answering phones at the mine said he had not heard anything an accident.
China’s mining industry is the most dangerous in the world, and more than 2,600 people died in mining accidents last year.
The People’s Daily newspaper reported Thursday that China has shut down more than 1,600 small, illegal coal mines this year as part of an effort to improve safety standards.
China mining fatalities have decreased in recent years as the government closed many illegal mines, but deaths jumped again in the first half of this year.
In October, the State Administration of Work Safety said mine managers and bosses who do not accompany workers down into mine shafts would be severely punished.