Gas Explosion in Chinese Mine Kills 24, Injures 6

A gas explosion inside a mine in northeast China on Thursday killed 24 people and injured six, local authorities and state media said. Three others were trapped inside.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the 9 a.m. accident happened in a coal mine in the city of Fuxin in Liaoning province. Rescuers were searching for the three trapped people, it said, citing local authorities.

Forty-one miners were working inside at the time. Xinhua said 14 managed to return to the surface on their own.

A spokesman at the Fuxin safety bureau confirmed the explosion but would not provide further details. The man, who refused to give his name, referred questions to the local coal mining bureau. A woman who answered the phone at the coal mining bureau hung up without answering questions.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with numerous fires, floods and other disasters killing an average of 13 miners a day. Many accidents are blamed on small mines with low safety standards or those operating illegally.

The government has promised for years to improve mine safety but energy-hungry China depends on coal for most of its power generation.

Local Coal Mine Safety officials rushed to the mine to guide rescue efforts, the report said. It said an investigation into the cause is under way.