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January 10, 2010

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Coal mine fire kills 12

TWELVE workers have been killed in a coal mine fire in east China's Jiangxi Province and police are hunting several fleeing mine executives, local authorities said yesterday.

The accident occurred about 4pm Friday at the Miaoshang Coal Mine in Yushui District, in Xinyu City, the district government said.

The victims' bodies were retrieved yesterday morning.

"An initial investigation indicates the fire was caused by the short circuit of underground cables," a statement said.

Fourteen miners were working underground when the accident happened and two escaped, said Xu Wenpo, at rescue headquarters yesterday.

"The fire ignited underground wooden support structures, letting off harmful gases and causing a tunnel collapse, making rescue work difficult," he said.

The privately owned coal mine, founded in 1995, reports an annual production capacity of 60,000 tonnes.

"The bank accounts of five coal mine shareholders have been frozen, and police are hunting the mine head and other executives who fled after the accident," Xu said.

The Xinyu municipal government has ordered all mines in the city to suspend operation for safety checks, he said, and local work safety authorities and police are further investigating the accident.


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