66 dead in China mine explosion
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BEIJING, China -- At least 66 miners have died and another 17 were missing after an explosion in a coal mine in northwest China, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Four people survived the blast, which struck the Shenlong Coal Mine in Xinjang Uygur province at 2:38 a.m. (2:38 p.m. Sunday ET), the agency reported on Tuesday.
"The remains of the 66 miners killed in the gas blast have been hoisted to the ground," Reuters news agency quoted Yu Zhengui, deputy secretary-general of the Xinjiang government, as saying, adding the chance of finding the missing 17 alive was slim.
The mine is located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Urumqi in the Shenlong Coal Mine.
Four rescue teams were dispatched to the area, the agency said.
Last year, more than 6,000 miners in China were killed in explosions and accidents nationwide, according to Reuters reports.
China has pledged to clean up the industry, but with the economy reliant on coal for about 70 percent of its energy needs, it has proved an uphill battle.
China produces about double the amount of coal official media say it can safely mine.
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