Report: 15 Dead in Coal Mine Blast in China

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An explosion in a northeast China coal mine killed 15 miners Saturday as rescuers searched for another missing miner, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Thirty-two miners were working in the shaft of the Yuanhua coal mine, outside Jixi city, when the explosion occurred shortly before 2 p.m., Xinhua said. Eighteen were left trapped by the blast, while the rest escaped, the report said.

Rescuers reached the trapped miners nearly eight hours later, finding the 15 dead and rescuing two others. One miner was still unaccounted for, Xinhua said.

The accident was likely caused by a power failure in the mine shaft, which allowed gas to accumulate and set the stage for the explosion, the report said.

China, with its booming economy, relies on coal to meet two-thirds of its energy needs. Eager to profit from the demand, mine owners routinely ignore safety regulations to dig out more coal. The combination has made Chinese mines among the world's deadliest with an average of 16 miners dying daily.