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33 Believed Dead in Mine Blast; Railway Explosion Injures 18
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Thirty-three people are missing and believed dead following a gas explosion that took place at the Daxian Coal Mine in northwest China's Shanxi Province at about 4:20 PM on Thursday.


According to a State Administration of Work Safety bulletin issued on Friday morning, 71 miners were working underground at the time of the blast. Forty-three escaped, but five men who rushed back into the mine in an attempt to save their coworkers were also trapped and are now feared dead.


The Daxian mine is a licensed, township-operated enterprise in Yixian County. It is under the jurisdiction of Yangquan City, about 110 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, Taiyuan.


More than 4,500 workers have been killed in mining accidents from January through November this year, according to official figures.


Shanxi is a depressed, landlocked area but China's biggest coal producer, making its economy heavily dependent on coal.


Also on Thursday, a railway car filled with fireworks that exploded in central China's Hunan Province injured 18 workers, two of them seriously.


Local police said on Friday that the blast occurred in the suburbs of Changsha, the provincial capital, at 9:00 PM.


According to a Xinhua News Agency report, all those injured had been repairing rails at the site when the blast occurred. They were taken to a local hospital for treatment but there have been no further reports on their condition.


Xinhua reports that the explosion also caused a fire, which was brought under control by the early morning hours on Friday.


(China.org.cn December 10, 2004)

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