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Coal Mine Blast Kills 74 in Northern China

Chinese state media say a gas explosion at a coal mine in northern China has killed 74 miners in the country's deadliest mining accident in more than a year.

The blast happened before dawn Sunday at a coal mine near the city of Taiyuan in Shanxi province. More than 400 miners were underground at the time and many escaped with the help of rescuers.

China's official Xinhua news agency says rescue operations ended by Sunday evening. It says 114 miners were hospitalized, most with carbon monoxide poisoning.

The coal mine is operated by a major Chinese company, the Shanxi Coking Coal Group, and had not reported an accident in the past decade.

China's mining industry is the world's deadliest, with many mines violating safety standards and operating illegally. China says 3,200 miners died in accidents last year.

Sunday's accident is the most lethal in China since a coal mine blast in December 2007 killed 105 people, also in Shanxi.

Government figures show that almost 80 percent of China's estimated 16,000 mines are illegal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.