December 3, 2016 / 8:52 AM / a year ago

China coal mine disaster kills 32: Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - The death toll from a northern Chinese coal mine disaster rose to 32 on Sunday, state media reported, the latest accident in a country with a poor record of industrial safety.

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

The blast took place on Saturday in a small mine in the Inner Mongolia region, next to Mongolia, Xinhua news agency said.

A total of 181 workers were initially trapped underground and 149 of them were rescued, Xinhua said.

This was the second major coal mine accident in the past week, coming at a time when the government told miners to resume production to tame high coal prices and meet winter demand.

In the first disaster, authorities confirmed on Friday that 21 people died after a coal mine blast in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang.

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.

China has ordered all of the country’s coal mines to conduct a safety overhaul in the past month, the deputy director of the country’s work safety watchdog said on Friday.

The accidents have alarmed regulators over the past month as China ramps up coal production to meet winter demand. Thirty-three people died in a gas explosion at a coal mine in the southwestern city of Chongqing on Oct. 31.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Nick Macfie

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