(AP) — A fire sparked by underground tremors tore through a coal mine in northeastern China early Wednesday, killing 26 miners and leaving several others with life-threatening injuries, state media reported. Another 50 miners were injured in the disaster, which broke out in the complex run by the state-owned Fuxin Coal Corp. in Liaoning province, China's official Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV said. Of those, 30 had serious burns, eight were in intensive care and four were still in danger of dying, Xinhua said.
It said a minor earthquake caused sparks that ignited coal dust in the air, causing a blaze that ripped through the shaft shortly after 1 a.m. A mine supervisor reached by telephone said he was unable to immediately provide further details and declined to give his name.
China's mines are the most dangerous in the world, although improved safety measures have considerably lowered death tolls in accidents.
The government's China National Coal Administration reported 1,067 deaths in 604 coal mining accidents in 2013, down 23 percent from the year before. That marks a decline from more than 6,000 per year a decade ago. The decline has coincided with plateauing demand for coal as the Chinese economy cools from the dizzying heights of the last decade.