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Ten detained in connection with China coal mine disaster
December 9, 2016 / 1:23 PM / 8 months ago

Ten detained in connection with China coal mine disaster

Rescuers work near the site of a coal mine disaster in Qitaihe, Heilongjiang province, China, November 30, 2016. Picture taken November 30, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Ten people were detained in China on Friday in connection with a coal mine disaster that killed 32 people last week, state media reported.

Qiu Zetian, chairman of Baoma Coal Supplies Co. Ltd, the company that operated the mine, along with nine others were detained on suspicion of illegal mining and negligence, the Xinhua agency said.

Investigations were going on into the blast that originally trapped 181 people underground in a small mine in Inner Mongolia, a region of China near Mongolia, it said.

Authorities had warned the company against the use of excessive extraction techniques in March but it had failed to change its practice, Xinhua said without citing sources for the information.

The blast came shortly after a coal mine accident in Heilongjiang province killed 21 people.

The government has recently told miners to step up production to ease high coal prices and meet winter demand.

Coal accounts for almost two-thirds of China's energy consumption, but its mines are among the world's deadliest, due to lax enforcement of safety standards.

The government has ordered all coal mines to conduct safety overhauls, the deputy director of a work safety watchdog said on Dec. 2.

The rate of accidents has alarmed regulators over the past month. Thirty-three people died in a gas explosion at a coal mine in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Oct. 31.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Robert Birsel

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