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74 killed in Chinese coal mine explosion

A gas explosion in a coal mine in northern China killed at least 74 people early Sunday morning.

The miners were in the Tunlan Coal Mine in Gujiao city in Shanxi province. The explosion occured at 2:17 a.m., a Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, reported.

The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, a State Administration of Work Safety duty officer, Zhang, told Yahoo! News.

According to the New York Times, 436 people were wroking underground at the time of the explosion. 114 miners had been hospitalized, with six listed in critical condition, according to rescue workers. The miners were suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The ventilation system in the mine had broken down and the miners were told to try to escape. A survivor told Xinhua the power supply underground was cut off and the miners had to walk to the surface.

Rescuers with breathing equipment and helmets with headlamps were deployed into the mine to help carry out miners, Xinhua said.

The explosion was the deadliest coal-mining accident in China in more than a year. Xinhua said the mine had among the best facilities of any mine in China, and that there had been no major accidents there in five years before the explosion occurred.