18 Die in blast at coal mine in China

Beijing, Apr 22 (EFE).- Eighteen workers died and another 12 were injured in a coal-mine explosion over the weekend in northeastern China, official media reported Monday.

The blast occurred at 1:26 p.m. Saturday at the Qingxing Mine in the northeastern province of Jilin, which borders on North Korea.

When the explosion occurred, 73 miners were at work down in the mineshafts, though about 50 were able to get out unscathed.

The injured miners are hospitalized but their lives are not in danger, local authorities said.

This is the third fatal accident in the province in less than 30 days - in the two previous ones, which occurred on March 29 and April 1, a total of 53 people died.

Every year more than 3,000 workers die in Chinese mines, especially coal mines, the principal source of energy for the world's second-largest economy.

Many of the accidents are due to the lack of safety measures in pits operating illegally.

Another factor contributing to the high accident rate is the over-exploitation of coal deposits with extra shifts and ever-deeper excavations, which increase the danger of high concentrations of explosive firedamp gases.