The blast occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 21. According to China’s Xinhua News Agency, 528 miners were working underground at the Xinxing Coal Mine at the time of the explosion.
Xinhua News Agency reported that a mine safety worker noted a “sudden rise” in gas levels shortly before the blast. Hundreds of miners escaped the explosion, officials said, but at least 104 were killed. More than 2 dozen miners have been hospitalized, some with serious injuries.
The Associated Press reported that officials said the mine was overcrowded with too many workers at the time of the accident “in an effort to increase output.”
Xinhua also reported that in the wake of the explosion, Heilongjiang Governor Li Zhanshu said, “Development is the top priority, but gross domestic product cannot be traded with the lives and blood of employees.”
Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group owns and operates the Xinxing mine. The mine produces 12 million tons of coal a year.