BEIJING – Rescue workers in northern China have recovered 59 bodies after an explosion tore through a coal mine and were searching for 10 more missing miners, the government said Sunday.
The blast occurred Saturday at the Xishui Colliery (search) in Shuozhou, a city in a major coal-mining area in Shanxi province. Police have detained four coal mine owners, the official Xinhua News Agency (search) said.
By 5 p.m. (0900 GMT) Sunday, 59 bodies had been found, Xinhua said, and rescue teams were trying to locate the trapped miners. It said 20 workers who were trapped had been from a neighboring mine whose wall collapsed from the impact.
Footage on state television showed rescue workers dressed in orange jumpsuits with oxygen tanks strapped to their backs rushing out from buses and officials looking at layout plans of the mines.
China Central Television said the ventilation system had been turned back on but did not give any other details.
Neither CCTV nor Xinhua said how many of the dead were in each of the two mines, or give any details about the detention of the mine owners.
Xishui Colliery had been ordered to suspend production after safety problems last November, but work had resumed "in defiance of the order," Xinhua said, citing an unidentified official with the provincial coal mine supervision office.
The other coal mine, Kangjiayao, was operating with government approval, it said.
Explosions, floods and cave-ins kill thousands of people in Chinese coal mines each year. Investigators often blame indifference to safety rules or a lack of the ventilation equipment needed to clear the gas that seeps from coal beds.
Earlier this week, two unrelated explosions in coal mines in China's northeast and near the southwestern city of Chongqing killed a total of 36 miners.