At least 42 miners are now known to have died in a gas explosion in a coalmine in north-eastern China.
Another 66 are missing, believed trapped underground by the explosion of a gas pocket. 528 workers were underground when the accident took place. The mine, near Hegang, produces 12 million tons of coal a year and is part of the Longmay group, the north-east’s biggest mining company and the country’s seventh-largest producer. The Chinese government is determined to modernise its mining sector, the world’s most dangerous, especially its coal mines, in which 3200 people died last year. It spends some 200 million euros a year, in particular on methane leaks, but Chinese mines are also susceptible to flooding and collapses, especially smaller operations which are often illegal and which the government is trying to close.