Asia-Pacific

China coal mine accidents 'kill at least 38', trap more

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Media captionRescue workers outiside the Xiaonangou coal mine, where 28 people died

At least 38 miners have been killed in three separate accidents in China's notoriously dangerous coal mines, according to state-run media.

Twenty eight people died after an electrical cable caught fire inside the Xiaonangou mine in Shaanxi province, the Xinhua news agency reports.

Police have arrested the mine's owner.

Eight miners died in an accident in Henan province, while two others were killed in Hunan, Xinhua says.

Thirteen miners remain trapped underground in a separate incident in Gansu province in the north west.

Rescuers retrieved five bodies from the Shaanxi mine on Sunday morning, Xinhua said.

An investigation is currently under way.

China's vast coal mining industry is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.

According to official figures, 2,631 coal miners died in 1,616 mine accidents in China in 2009, down 18% from the previous year.

The country gets more than two-thirds of its electricity from coal.

Most accidents are blamed on failures to follow safety rules, including a lack of required ventilation or fire control equipment.

But independent labour groups say the figure could be much higher, as accidents are covered up to prevent mine closures.

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