Rescuers unsure if any survivors remain
A large-scale rescue operation is under way in the northern Chinese city of Jinzhong after a gas explosion ripped through a coalmine, RFA's Mandarin service reports. At least 25 of the miners are confirmed dead at the mine in Zuoquan County, Shanxi Province.
A gas buildup is believed to have caused the blast. The mine was run by a local village enterprise.
The blast was the third mining accident in the province in 10 days. Similar gas explosions at mines in Yangquan and Datong left 65 dead and five missing last week. And 12 workers in a flooded mine in the southwestern city of Chongqing were still unaccounted for after two weeks underground. No-one yet knows if anyone survived the explosion.
Safety standards in China's mines are among the lowest in the world, with a total of 3,761 deaths reported in the first six months of this year alone. Most of these deaths--2,798--occurred in coal pits.
The worst accidents happen in smaller, privately run mines that pay little attention to safety. Last year, more than 5,000 Chinese workers were killed in explosions, floods, cave-ins and other accidents.