DISASTER

87 Dead, 21 Trapped in China Mine Blast

A gas explosion just before dawn on Saturday killed 87 people in the state-run Xinxing mine in Heilongjiang, and 21 others are still trapped a third of a mile below ground. Of the 528 working miners, 415 managed to escape, and miners have already been saved by some 300 rescuers, working in the frigid, dark underground, left powerless by the blast. Some miners have been hospitalized with broken bones and carbon monoxide poisoning. One entrance of the mine was cut off by the explosion, caused by a gas build-up, and a nearby building collapsed. Windows were blown out of homes in a city several miles away. The disaster highlights the difficulty China has had with enacting safety standards in the face of heavy demand: the country has said it is cracking down on unregulated mining operations—which comprise 80% of China's mines—and has cut fatalities to an average of six a day in the first half of this year. But accidents still happen: the February deaths of 74 miners in an explosion in Shanxi was the worst in a year.