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36 reported trapped in China coal mine fire

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Xinhua: Underground air compressor caught fire at mine in Shandong province
  • Team of experts rushed to the scene, news agency reports
  • Mine reportedly had been upgraded to expand production capacity
  • Shandong Province
  • China
  • Asia

Beijing (CNN) -- A coal mine fire occurred Wednesday night left at least 36 people trapped underground in Shandong province in eastern China, the official news agency Xinhua reported Thursday, citing safety officials.

An air compressor in a parking lot 225 meters (738 feet) underground caught fire around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, trapping 36 miners working in the area, according to the news agency, which reported on the initial investigation by the State Administration of Work Safety early Thursday.

The mine belongs to Zaozhuang Fangbei Coal Mine Co. Ltd., in Shangdong province, Xinhua said.

An team of experts headed by SAWS director Luo Lin rushed to the scene immediately, the news agency reported, and a rescue operation is ongoing.

According to reports, the mine had been upgraded in June 2010 to expand production capacity to 150,000 tons a year. The work was approved in October, Xinhua reported.