Blast in Chinese Coal Mine Kills 111

At least 111 miners were killed in a gas explosion at a coal mine, an anonymous Chinese official said.

Another 24 workers are hospitalized and four are missing, the official said. The official Xinhua News Agency confirmed the fact of the explosion and said it occurred around 9:45 a.m.

The Chengzihe mine in Jixi has 5,500 workers in all, Xinhua said.

Chinese mines frequently have deadly explosions or other accidents due to a lack of safety equipment, such as ventilators to disperse coal gas. Last month alone, 329 mine workers died in explosions, according to state figures.

Work was suspended at nine other mines under the Jixi municipality mining administration's control.

Earlier this year, China's government announced plans to cut down on mining accidents. In April, Zhang Baoming, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said mines that failed to meet safety standards would be shut down.

Small, profit-obsessed mines were named at the time as a leading reason for the deaths.

Last year, more than 5,000 miners died in accidents. In all, more than 80 million tons of surplus coal was produced.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.