Gas blast kills 14 miners in southwest China

Gas caught fire in an illegal coal pit in southwest China , killing 14 miners, an official and a news report said Wednesday. The accident happened late Tuesday in Guizhou province's Weining county, when a chemical reaction produced carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and intense heat, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

It wasn't immediately clear whether fire or fumes killed the miners. The death toll was 14, said a duty officer at the Weining county government who gave only his surname, Liu. He said the cause of the accident was being investigated.

Thousands of workers are killed each year in China 's mines, the world's deadliest. Fires, floods and explosions occur almost daily despite repeated safety crackdowns, mostly due to poor equipment and lax enforcement of safety rules. Separately on Wednesday, the death toll from a coal mine explosion in northwestern China has risen to 32, as rescuers recovered the body of the last missing miner, Xinhua said.

The gas blast occurred Saturday at the Wayaobao Township Coal Mine in Shaanxi province when 39 miners were working underground, Xinhua reported. Seven escaped. Xinhua said the mine is legal but violated safety regulations.

Investigators from the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety have blamed bad ventilation, a lack of inspectors and a gas monitoring system for the accident, Xinhua reported. It said the mine's lone gas inspector left 20 minutes before the explosion.

Xinhua said 28 bodies have been identified, and the family of victims have received compensation. Police have detained the mine's owner and managers, according to Xinhua. The Shaanxi provincial government has urged coal mines to conduct safety inspections after the latest accident, the agency said, reports the AP.

N.U.

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