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Mine Explosions Kill 43 in Hunan, Yunnan

Forty-three Chinese miners were killed in two separate gas explosions on Monday.

A gas explosion left 25 people dead on Monday afternoon at an unlicensed coal pit in Wenshan County in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Ten others were injured and remain hospitalized.

The pit is run by local villager Yu Xinghong, said officials with the provincial coal industry administration.

Xu Rongkai, acting governor of Yunnan, rushed to the scene to organize rescue operations.

In central China's Hunan Province, 18 coal miners died after a gas leak in the Zijiang coal mine in Lengshuijiang, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Liu Ruoliang, deputy director of the mine, said 30 miners were working underground when the explosion took place on Monday evening; 12 workers survived.

The bodies are still in the mine and will be moved out for identification when police finish investigating.

Provincial authorities, including Zhang Yunchuan, acting governor of Hunan, and Zheng Maoqing, deputy governor, have led teams of rescue workers.

The central government ordered small, private mines to close down after a series of fatal blasts last year.

Official statistics indicate that 57,600 small mines were shut down in the first 10 months of last year across the country.

But profits have tempted some to remain open despite their poor equipment and lax safety measures.

(China Daily January 16, 2002)

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