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Coal mine accident in China's Chongqing kills 23


(Reuters) - Twenty-three people died after being trapped in a mine in China's southwestern city of Chongqing, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday, the region's second such accident in just over two months.

The dead were among 24 people trapped underground by excessive levels of carbon monoxide gas at the Diaoshuidong coal mine, the agency said, adding that one survivor had been rescued, after more than 30 hours of search and rescue efforts.

Friday's incident, which occurred at about 5 p.m. (0900 GMT) in a mine shut for more than two months as the company dismantled underground equipment, is being investigated, it added.

China on Sunday ordered local authorities to "resolutely take decisive measures to effectively stop major accidents in coal mines from happening," according to a statement published on the website of the Ministry of Emergency Management.

Officials from the State Council also urged the Chongqing government to launch a comprehensive safe production check on all coal mines, and eliminate outdated production capacity in an orderly and safe manner, the statement said.

China's mines are among the world's deadliest, with 16 deaths reported in late September after high levels of carbon monoxide trapped miners at the Songzao coal mine in Chongqing.

Diaoshuidong, built in 1975 and run since 1998 as a private enterprise, is a high-gas mine with annual capacity of 120,000 tonnes of coal, Xinhua said.

In 2013, three people were killed and two injured in a hydrogen sulphide poisoning incident at the mine, it added.

(Reporting by Tom Daly, Andrew Galbraith and Hallie Gu; Editing by Louise Heavens, Clarence Fernandez and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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