03/10/2005, 00.00
CHINA
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Coal mine explosion in northern China traps 29 workers

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Twenty-nine miners were trapped underground on Thursday after a gas explosion in a coal mine in north China, state media reported.

The blast ripped through the Xiangyuan Gulch No. 2 mine in Shanxi province's Jiacheng county Wednesday afternoon as 83 miners were at work in the shaft, the Xinhua news agency said.

Gong Anku, director the Shanxi Provincial Bureau for Workplace Safety, said 54 miners escaped but 29 remained trapped underground. It was not clear whether they were dead or alive.

China has the most dangerous mines in the world with official figures showing more than 6,000 miners died in accidents last year. Independent estimates say the real figure could be as high as 20,000.

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