China coal mine accident kills at least 10, prompts safety checks

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – At least 10 people have died and six are missing after a coal mine accident in the city of Pingdingshan, in central China, the local emergency management agency said on Saturday, vowing to continue rescue operations and launch city-wide safety checks.

A safety inspection campaign in coal-rich Pingdingshan, in Henan province, could disrupt coal production there and strain coal supplies.

Last November, coal prices in China jumped after the country’s cabinet vowed to ramp up safety checks as deaths from accidents in top coal producing region Shanxi had sharply risen.

Pingdingshan’s emergency management bureau said in a statement that the accident occurred around 2:55 p.m. (0655 GMT)on Friday due to a coal and gas outburst at a mine owned by China’s Pingdingshan Tianan Coal Mining.

As of 3 p.m. on Saturday, 10 people had been confirmed dead, and six were missing.

The agency said it will make concrete plans to rescue the missing and investigate the cause of the accident.

The official Xinhua news agency said a total of 425 people were working underground when the accident took place.

(Reporting by Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)