China mine blast kills 18

2012-11-24 16:00

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Beijing - An explosion at a mine in southwest China killed 18 people on Saturday, state media said, the latest incident to hit the industry, which has a notoriously poor safety record.

Another five people were still trapped underground in the pit after the accident at the Xiangshui coal mine in Liupanshui city in Guizhou Province, the Xinhua state news agency said citing provincial government and company sources.

The blast at the mine, part of the Guizhou Panjiang Group, went off at 11:00 (03:00 GMT) and by early evening 18 people were confirmed dead while several others had been rescued.

China is the world's biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70% of its growing energy needs.

But its mines are among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.

According to the latest official figures, 1 973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011, a 19% fall on the previous year.

But labour rights groups say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

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