10/17/2008, 00.00
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Explosion in Ningxia mine kills 16

The accident occurred in a mine in a north-western region of the country as workers prepared to blast two tonnes of dynamite. Forty-six people are injured, 12 in very serious conditions. China’s mines remain the most dangerous in the world.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The provisional death toll from a mine blast accident in north-western China has risen to 16. The blast occurred at 6.15 pm yesterday (local time) in the Dafeng Coal Mine in Shizuishan, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Rescuers found four more bodies this morning reported missing yesterday, but more are thought to still be trapped underground.

Xinhua reports that that 46 people were injured, including 12 who are in serious condition in hospital for treatment

The accident occurred when workers were using more than two tons of dynamite to blast away rock in the mine.

The dead include six people working with the dynamite, five people passing the site in a vehicle and mine workers living in nearby sheds.

Police have held two people from Guangdong Hongda Blasting Co., Ltd., who were in charge of the blasting operation, for questioning and investigation.

Yesterday’s accident is the latest in a very long series of accidents in Chinese mines which have become a virtual death trap for workers.

According to unofficial figures, at least 6,000 people died in 2007, but non-governmental sources speak of at least twice as many deaths.

High coal prices tend to drive owners to increase output at the expense of safety.

After major accidents in recent years central authorities have launched a zero tolerance campaign but they have hitherto failed to solve the problem, partly because of complicity between mine owners and local authorities.

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