BEIJING (AP) – A gas explosion in a Chinese coal mine killed at least 18 miners and trapped 39 others, a news report said today.

The blast occurred Saturday afternoon in Jinzhong, a city in Shanxi province, China’s leading coal-mining region, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The report said the directors of China’s national industrial safety and mine safety agencies were en route to the scene to oversee rescue work.

China’s coal mines are the world’s deadliest, with more than 5,000 fatalities a year despite repeated government promises to improve safety.

Many accidents are blamed on lack of required equipment or indifference to safety rules.

AP-ES-07-15-06 2201EDT

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