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At least 27 dead in coal mine blast in southwestern China


Beijing, May 12 (EFE).- A gas explosion in a coal mine in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan killed at least 27 miners and injured 16, according to local authorities cited by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The accident occurred about 6 a.m. GMT on Saturday in the Taozigou mine near the city of Luzhou, authorities said, adding that an investigation had been opened to determine the cause of the blast.

So far, 81 miners have been rescued but 16 of them are injured to varying degrees and are receiving treatment in local hospitals, authorities said.

This is the second mining accident in the past 24 hours in China. On Friday night, 12 miners died and 2 were injured in a similar explosion in another coal mine in Guizhou province.

Each year, more than 3,000 workers die in Chinese mines, especially coal mines.

Coal is the main energy source in the world's second-largest economy.

Many of the accidents result from the lack of safety measures in mines that are operating illegally.

Another factor leading to the high incidence of mining accidents and deaths is the overexploitation of the mines using extra shifts and ever-deeper shafts and tunnels, all of which increase the risk of running into highly-concentrated pockets of flammable gas.