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Gas blast traps 22 miners in western China coal mine

13 December 2013

On December 13 a methane blast at a coal mine trapped 22 miners underground. 12 others managed to leave the mine. It is unclear whether there were fatalities. The incident happened at the Baiyanggou coal mine in Hutubi County, Hui Autonomous Prefecture of Changji, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Xinhua said professional coal mine rescue teams and local firefighters have arrived at the site, citing the regional bureau of coal mine safety supervision.

To guard against possible secondary disasters, a rescue team has entered the shaft to learn about underground conditions before a rescue operation is launched to reach the trapped workers, the bureau said.

These accidents are usually caused by a failure to ventilate methane gas from the shaft. China's mines, which are the deadliest in the world, suffer frequent explosions, floods and cave-ins.

Safety improvements have reduced the number deaths in recent years, but regulations are still often ignored.

Update 14/12/13: An official at the Xinjiang region’s work safety bureau said that 21 miners were confirmed dead and another one who had been trapped was injured. The official refused to give further details and said the incident was under investigation.

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