Death toll reaches 73 in China mine blast

Feb. 22, 2009 at 7:23 AM

GUJIAO CITY, China, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A gas explosion in a coal mine in northern China early Sunday left 73 miners dead and 65 others trapped, officials said.

The miners were among 436 working in the Tunlan Coal Mine of Shanxi Coking Coal Group in Gujiao City, Shanxi province, Xinhua reported. The blast occurred at 2:17 a.m., the state-run news agency said.

Rescuers said that among 113 miners who were hospitalized in the provincial capital of Taiyuan, 21 of them were in critical condition Sunday afternoon.

One of the more than 80 rescuers involved in the operation told Xinhua some relatives of trapped miners reported getting cell phone calls from inside the mine.

Most of the rescued miners were diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning, medical authorities said.

The Shanxi Coking Coal Group is one of the largest coking coal producers in China, Xinhua said. The explosion is the first accident reported at the Tunlan Coal Mine in the past decade, the report said.

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