16 Oct 2010

Chinese mine explosion kills 20, traps 17

10:01 pm on 16 October 2010

An explosion at a coalmine in central China has killed 20 miners and trapped another 17 underground. Nearly 250 others got out safely.

Rescue efforts are under way at the the pit in Yuzhou, Henan province, which state media say was hit by a "sudden coal and gas outburst".

China's mining industry is the most dangerous in the world - more than 2600 people were killed in accidents in 2009.

The government has shut down more than 1000 illegal pits this year as part of efforts to improve safety standards in the country's 25,000 coalmines, the BBC reports.

The annual number of deaths fell from nearly 7000 in 2002 to 2631 last year.

In April, 115 miners were rescued alive from a flooded mine in Shanxi province after spending more than a week underground.

Earlier this month, new regulations came into force requiring mine managers to accompany their miners, as an incentive to improving the conditions underground.