Rescuers worked in frigid cold to reach 21 miners trapped underground Sunday as the death toll from a huge gas explosion in a northern Chinese mine jumped to 87 - the deadliest blast to hit the beleaguered industry in nearly two years.
The pre-dawn blast Saturday at the state-run Xinxing mine in Heilongjiang (pronounced HAY-long-jeeahng) province near the border with Russia was the latest to hit China's mining industry - the world's most dangerous. Authorities say safety is improving, but hundreds still die in major accidents each year.
The death toll more than doubled overnight, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. A duty officer at Xinxing's work safety authority and an employee at the company that owns the mine confirmed 87 had died.
Ventilation and power were restored in the mine, said the employee, who refused to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.