Gas blast kills 26 at Chinese coal mine

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Twenty-six miners have been killed after a gas explosion at a coal mine in central China, state media says.

The blast happened in Mianchi County, Henan Province, about 300km (186 miles) from the provincial capital Zhengzhou, Xinhua news agency said.

An official said 33 miners had been underground when the explosion happened on Tuesday.

Explosions, fires and floods are common in China's coal mines, killing thousands of workers each year.

No reason was given for the latest explosion.

Correspondents say Chinese officials have tried to improve safety in the nation's mines, but huge demand for coal means many producers sidestep regulations.

The government has shut down more than 1,000 illegal pits this year as part of efforts to improve safety standards.

China is heavily reliant on its mining industry, with coal supplying some 70% of its energy needs. Many of those employed in mines are migrant workers with limited training.

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