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Blast Kills 16 Miners in China

July 23, 2001

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BEIJING, China (AP) _ An explosion killed at least 16 coal miners in a mine that illegally reopened after being closed for safety reasons, state television and a local official said Monday.

Another 77 miners were missing after the explosion Sunday morning at the mine in Xuzhou, a city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, China Central Television said.

Authorities closed the mine June 15 because it lacked ``all necessary ... safety facilities″ but it reopened this month, said a local official who identified himself only as Mr. Jiang.

Police have detained the mine owner, Jiang said by telephone from Xuzhou. He wouldn’t give any details about the owner or rescue efforts.

China’s coal mines are the world’s deadliest, suffering thousands of deaths a year. Already this month, 21 miners were reported killed when a mine flooded in the northeastern province of Jilin.

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