CHINA-EXPLOSION

SEPTEMBER 4 2008 13:01h

China Coal Mine Blast Kills 24 - Xinhua

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There were 41 miners in the mine at the time of the explosion. Of those, 14 returned to the surface on their own, said the agency.

Twenty-four people were killed and six injured in a gas explosion at a coal mine in China's northeast province of Liaoning early on Thursday, Xinhua news agency said.

Rescuers were searching for three other miners who were still trapped in the mine located in Fuxin, Xinhua said, citing local authorities.

There were 41 miners in the mine at the time of the explosion. Of those, 14 returned to the surface on their own, said the agency.

China, the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, has the world's deadliest mining industry. A total of 3,786 Chinese coal miners died in gas blasts, flooding and other accidents in 2007, down 20 percent from 2006.

An investigation into the blast is underway, Xinhua said.