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China Confirms 35 Deaths in Covered Up Coal Mine Blast

Chinese authorities have confirmed that 35 people died in a northern China coal mine blast that was covered up for almost three months.

A spokesman for China's workplace safety agency Huang Yi told reporters Friday that 25 officials were fired over the cover-up and 22 others were prosecuted. Police also detained three brothers who own the mine.

The explosion in the mine in Yuxian County in Hebei province took place on July 14 when explosives illegally stored in the pit ignited.

China's official news agency Xinhua reports that the mine owners tried to cover up the accident, destroying the bodies and hiding evidence of the explosion. It says they also tried to silence the victims' relatives with bribes and threats.

But some relatives complained to the central government in Beijing and reported the accident on the Internet, prompting an investigation.

The case first came to light on October 7 after the State Administration of Work Safety announced it was conducting an investigation.

China's coal mines are among the world's deadliest, with numerous accidents occurring in small mines with low safety standards, or in mines operating illegally.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.