Dozens Killed in Chinese Mine BlastAssociated Press (washingtonpost.com)
Wednesday, May 14, 2003; Page A20
BEIJING, May 14 (Wednesday) -- A gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in eastern China Tuesday, killing at least 63 miners and leaving 23 others missing 1,500 feet underground, officials said.
The explosion struck the Luling coal mine near the city of Hefei at 4:13 p.m., the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Hefei is about 600 miles south of Beijing. By early today, rescuers had recovered 63 bodies and had found no signs that the other miners are alive, said an official reached by telephone in the mine's administration office.Xinhua said 27 of the 113 people working in the mine at the time of the blast were rescued. The cause of the blast was under investigation, the officials said.
China's coal mines are considered the world's deadliest, with more than 5,000 fatalities reported last year in explosions, floods and cave-ins. Explosions are common and often are blamed on a lack of ventilation to clear natural gas that seeps out of coal beds. Other accidents have been ascribed to lack of fire-control equipment or indifference by mine managers to safety rules.