Eighteen killed in mine blast in China, officials say

Saturday, April 18, 2009

According to state television, at least eighteen people have been killed and a further six injured after an explosion at a coal mine in central China.

The incident occurred during the afternoon on Friday April 17 at the Qingshanbei mine in Chenzhou city, located in the Hunan province. An employee for the city's coal industry bureau told the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that an explosives warehouse and detonator exploded, saying that "up to this morning we have confirmed there are 18 dead and three injured."

The Xinhua News Agency reports that two other people had been reported missing after the explosion. Police have suggested that the explosives may have been stored illegally.

China is reported to have some of the world's most dangerous mines. Official reports state that no less than 3,786 miners were killed in accidents in the country in 2007. The safety record has been slightly improving, however, as the death toll for 2008 saw a fifteen percent drop, with 3,215 miner deaths from accidents. The decrease was in part, due to a crackdown on unsafe mines by the authorities. The actual death toll may be higher, however, as many legally-operated mines frequently do not report or hide fatalities in order not to be suspended from operating by the government.