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Chinese state media: 17 miners trapped underground

BEIJING -- Rescuers on Sunday worked to free 17 miners trapped following a gas explosion at a coal mine in western China, the country's official news agency reported.

The blast at the mine 120 kilometers (70 miles) from Urumqi, the capital of the sprawling Xinjiang region, happened on Saturday evening, according to the Xinhua News Agency. It said three other people working inside the mine at the time had been rescued.

China has the world's deadliest mines, although the safety record has been improving in recent years as regulators have strengthened enforcement of safety rules.

Xinhua said the pit is mined by Dahuangshan Yuxin Coal Mining Co. Ltd., owned by the sixth agricultural division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. It is a paramilitary organization that was revived by the central government in the 1980s to aid the region's construction and development.

Calls to the organization rang unanswered on Sunday. A duty officer at Xinjiang work safety bureau said he had no information about the incident.

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