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Death toll in China coal mine blast rises to 26

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The explosion occurs Tuesday night
  • Twenty miners are able to survive the blast
  • China has launched a safety campaign in coal mines

(CNN) -- The death toll in a gas explosion at a coal mine in China's Henan province has risen to 26, state media said Wednesday.

Forty-six miners were working underground when the blast occurred Tuesday at the Juyuan Coal Mine, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty of the men were lifted to safety shortly afterward.

At the time of the blast, the mine was closed for upgrades. But the mine's owner ordered the men to return to work, Xinhua said, Li Guoqi, deputy chief engineer of Yi Ma Coal Industry Group.

Mine accidents are common in China. In 2009, 2,631 people died in such accidents.

In April, the country launched a campaign to inspect safety regulations in mines and other industries that have had serious accidents.