China coal mine fire kills 21: State media

SHANGHAI (AFP) – A fire at a coal mine in China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang has killed 21 people with one still missing, state media reported on Saturday (Nov 21), the latest accident in the country’s trouble-plagued resources sector.  

The fire broke out late Friday evening at a mine in Jixi city operated by the state-owned Heilongjiang Longmay Mining Holding Group, said the Xinhua news agency, which earlier reported 22 miners were trapped.

Rescue workers had already found the bodies of 21 miners and were searching for the remaining person missing, it said, quoting the local government. A total of 38 miners were underground when the fire broke out and 16 managed to escape.  Jixi city is close to the border with Russia.  

China – the world’s largest producer of coal – is grappling to improve standards in the poorly regulated sector.  

Accidents in Chinese coal mines killed 931 people last year, a top work safety official said in March.  

In July, rescuers pulled six men from a flooded coal mine in Heilongjiang after they survived a week underground following an accident that killed at least four others, according to state media.  Many accidents are caused by corrupt bosses seeking profits over worker safety.