14 killed in Chinese gas explosion

A gas explosion in a coal mine in China's southwest in Guizhou Province early Monday killed at least 14 miners and rescuers were searching for two missing people.

The explosion occurred at about 3 a.m. (1900 GMT) in the Wanzi Coal Mine in Liupanshui, a city in Guizhou province, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing local safety officials.

Information provided by the provincial bureau of production safety said 39 miners were working under the coal mine shaft when the explosion occurred around 3 a.m. at Wanzi Coal Mine in Shuicheng County.

It said 23 miners escaped from the mine after the blast. The cause of the explosion was under investigation, the report said. It said the mine lacked a safety certification but had other required licenses.

The report came as rescuers were trying to save 102 coal miners trapped by an underground flood in Guangdong province in China's southeast.

Beijing recently announced the closure of a string of tiny private mines, often the worst violators of safety regulations, Reuters reports.

But high prices and the booming economy's voracious appetite for power encourage some to reopen illegally and others to ignore regulations or push production beyond capacity.

China's coal consumption is expected to rise by around six percent this year, Xinhua quoted the China Coal Industry Association saying.

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