China: Yunnan mine hit by 'deadly gas outburst'


Nineteen miners have been killed and more are trapped underground after an accident at a colliery in south China.

The incident happened early on Thursday at the Sizhuang mine in Yunnan province's Qujing city.

The mine was hit by a "coal and gas outburst" - the ejection of rock and gas from a coal face, an official said.

Hundreds of firemen, rescue teams and medical staff were at the site, a local government statement said.

The disaster comes days after another mine in Henan province experienced a rock burst, which trapped pit workers. Dozens were rescued but 10 were killed.

The official Xinhua news agency quoted officials as saying the latest accident happened at 06:25 (22:25 GMT, Wednesday).

At least 24 men are thought to be trapped but the exact number underground at the time of the incident remains unclear, the agency said.

An official told local media that rescue personnel were in the mine but that high levels of gas were hampering efforts.

China's mining industry has a terrible safety record, but officials say in recent years the number of deaths and injuries has fallen dramatically.

The central government has put in place policies aimed at improving safety, but these measures are often ignored at a local level.

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