Explosion in Coal Mining Province of China Kills at Least 43, Injures 28

A fire ignited explosives stored in a villager's home in northern China, setting off a blast Friday that killed at least 47 people and injured 20, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The fire began around the 6:30 a.m. (2230 GMT) in a house in the village of Dongzhai in Shanxi province, Xinhua said.

"Many fellow villagers then rushed to help extinguish the fire," Xinhua said. "Suddenly, the bungalow ablaze exploded, killing the 47 villagers."

"The villager's home was blasted into rubble," Xinhua said. "Windows of adjacent houses were broken."

More than 200 firefighters, police and rescue workers were clearing debris, it said.

The report did not give details on the amount of explosives stored in the home or how the fire started.

CountryWatch: China

Shanxi is a major coal-producing area where explosives often are made in unlicensed workshops that lack required safety equipment and stored in private homes.

In April, 31 people were killed in Shanxi when a two-ton (1.8-metric-ton) cache of explosives blew up at a hospital. A hospital administrator who moonlighted as a coal mine manager admitted storing the explosives at the hospital.

Last month, in another village in Shanxi, 10 people were killed when a blast ripped through a building where dynamite was being made illegally, according to news reports.

Elsewhere in Shanxi, six people were killed in February when a cache of explosives stored in a house blew up.