Coal Mine Blast Kills 24 in Northern China

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At least 24 miners were killed and 10 others trapped Monday by an explosion in a coal mine in northern China, and the death total in another mining accident in the region rose to 35.

The latest blast occurred at the Nanshan coal mine in Shanxi province's Lingshi County, China Central Television said in its midday broadcast.

CCTV said the mine was operating illegally in defiance of a government order in September to cease production after its safety license expired.

A man who answered the phone at the administrative office of Lingshi's county government said he was "unclear" about the incident and refused to take further questions. The Nanshan mine was not listed in the local telephone directory.

Twelve more miners were confirmed dead in a Nov. 5 gas blast at another mine in the same province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

At least 35 miners have now died and 12 others were still missing in the disaster at the Jiaojiazhai mine in Xinzhou city, the agency said.

China's poorly regulated mining industry is the deadliest in the world, with about 6,000 people killed each year in explosions, floods, collapses or other disasters. Lax safety rules and poor safety procedures are often to blame.

In central China's Hunan province, eight coal miners were still missing after an explosion on Wednesday that had already killed five others, Xinhua said late Sunday.

Separately, a court in northern China sentenced a former mine safety official to 13 years in jail for accepting bribes from mine operators to help them pass safety examinations, Xinhua said.

Diao Min, former chief of the technology and equipment department of Shanxi province's coal mine safety administration, was found guilty of accepting bribes amounting to $126,000, Xinhua said.