Eleven miners were killed and another 40 missing when a gas explosion ripped through an Inner Mongolian coal mine in the northern Chinese autonomous region, state press reported Monday.
The explosion occurred in the number two mine of the Daying Coal Mining Company of the Hulunbeier mining collective on Saturday afternoon when more than 300 miners were in the mine, Xinhua news agency reported.
The 40 missing miners are believed to be in a 320 meter (1,070 foot) mining tunnel whose two exits were cut off after the explosion, the agency said.
Twelve other miners were injured during the blast.
Officials at the mine refused to comment on the circumstances surrounding the blast or the rescue operation, but told AFP that rescue operations were continuing Monday evening.
Xinhua Sunday reported that nine miners suffocated in a coal mine in Shifang city, southwestern Sichuan province, while 10 people were killed and four others badly injured when a gas explosion ripped through an illegal coal mine in southern Hunan province last Thursday.
China, which is the world's biggest coal producer and consumer, is known for its bad mine safety record. Independent analysts estimate mine deaths top 10,000 per year.
At the end of September, China suffered one of its worst accidents in a decade when 160 miners were killed in another gas explosion in Muchonggou mine in Guizhou province, while two weeks ago a gas explosion in a southern Guangxi province coal mine killed 15 miners -- BEIJING (AFP)
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