25 killed in a major fire in Chinese coal mine

The fire broke out at the Lisheng mine on Tuesday in the city of Xiangtan in Hunan province where an underground cable caught fire trapping 71 miners, Xinhua reported quoting a county spokesman.

The agency said 43 miners managed to escape, while 25 bodies were recovered. Three other miners are still missing.

Rescuers retrieved nine bodies late last night and another 16 were bought out this morning. The authorities said that flames had been doused and ventilation system in the mine restored.

"Rescue efforts were hazardous as too much toxic gas had leaked out into the mine" Wang Shuhe Deputy Provincial Head of the coal mine safety department said.

Anxious family members of the trapped miners were keeping their fingers crossed as they held a vigil outside the mine entry hoping for a miracle.The authorities launched an enquiry into the incident and ordered all mines in the area to shut down till further notice.

Chinese coal mines have been labelled as among the most dangerous in the world, with mine accidents accounting for hundreds of deaths every year.

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