Coal mine fire in Northeast China kills 21

SHANGHAI: At least 21 people died in a fire at a mine operated by northeast China's biggest state-owned coal company, state media reported on Saturday, the latest accident in the country's trouble-plagued resources sector.

The fire broke out late Friday evening at a mine operated by state giant Longmay Mining Holding Group in Heilongjiang province's Jixi city, said the Xinhua news agency, which earlier reported 22 miners were trapped.

Longmay is the biggest coal firm in northeast China, but has struggled with financial difficulties, China Business News has reported. The Xinghua mine, where the accident occurred, is located close to the border with Russia.

Rescue workers had already found the bodies of 21 miners and were searching for one other missing person, Xinhua said, quoting the local government.

A total of 38 miners were underground when the fire broke out and 16 managed to escape. The fire originated with a long conveyor belt used to carry materials which was set at a steep angle, local media reported.

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