Saturday, April 18, 2009

China mine blast leaves 18 dead

At least 18 people have died in a blast at a warehouse storing explosives and detonators at a coal mine in China.

The explosion was so powerful that it completely destroyed the three-storey warehouse at the mine in Hunan province in central China.

Police are searching for the owners and investigating whether the explosives were bought and stored illegally.

At least 3,200 people died in China's coal mines last year, making them the deadliest in the world.

Analysts estimate the figure to be much higher.

The central government has closed down a number of illegal and smaller coal mines in recent years to reduce the number of accidents, the BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing says.

But, he adds, the policies of the government to improve safety are not always enforced at local levels - and accidents like this one continue to happen.