Gas blast in China coal mine blast kills 28; 13 people rescued

BEIJING, March 30, 2013 (AFP) - A gas blast in a northeast China coal mine killed 28 people, authorities said Saturday, according to state media, the latest incident to damage the industry's notoriously poor safety record.

Thirteen others were rescued after the accident Friday at Babao Coal Mine in the city of Baishan in Jilin province, the official Xinhua news agency cited a spokesman with the provincial work safety and supervision bureau as saying.

Rescue work has finished at the mine and the cause of the accident is under investigation, said the spokesman.

The mine is a state-owned colliery under the Tonghua Mining (Group) Co., Ltd, the Xinhua report said.

The accident occurred on the same day that a huge landslide came crashing down a mountainside in Tibet, burying 83 workers in a gold mining area, state media said.

China is the world's biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 per cent of its growing energy needs.

But its mines are among the deadliest in the world because of lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.

According to official figures, 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011, a 19 per cent fall on the previous year.

But labour rights groups say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.