Official says 12 people killed in China mine fire

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BEIJING (AP) — A fire in a southeastern China coal mine trapped and killed 12 workers, an official said Saturday, in the latest fatal accident for China’s mining industry, the deadliest in the world.

The chief of the coal mine management section in Xinyu city, Jiangxi province, said the bodies were being removed from the Miaoshang mine.

The official, who gave his surname as Ouyang, said in a telephone interview that a short circuit in an underground cable caused the fire late Friday afternoon. The mine had a license to operate and was in the process of doubling its production capacity from 30,000 tons a year to 60,000 tons, Ouyang said.

He said an investigation into the fire was under way.

Many of China’s mine accidents are blamed on poor safety as mining companies scramble to feed the country’s voracious demand for coal.

At least 25 miners died in a similar accident Tuesday when underground cables caught fire at the Lisheng coal mine in Xiangtan city in the central province of Hunan.

In November, 108 miners were trapped and killed by a coal mine blast in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang in China’s deadliest mining accident in two years.

According to China’s Work Safety Administration, at least 671 people died in coal mine accidents in 2009.


Associated Press researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.