An overnight blast near a workers' dormitory killed at least 17 people Saturday at a coal mine in a city in northern China notorious for mining disasters.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency said another seven people were seriously injured in the 2 a.m. blast at the Liugou mine in Linfen city in the northern province of Shanxi. The report cited a senior official with the mine's owner, the Yangquan Coal Industry (Group) Co. Ltd.
The official told Xinhua that explosives had been hidden illegally in the area and that police had detained one suspect.
It was not clear whether the mine was licensed. China has been trying to improve the safety of its mining industry, which is by far the world's deadliest, but an unknown number of illegal mines exist to profit off the country's huge appetite for power.
The website of the Yangquan Coal Industry (Group) Co. Ltd says the company is state-owned. Phone calls to the company rang unanswered Saturday.
The gritty city of Linfen is especially well-known for coal mine accidents. The city had nine major coal mine disasters, with more than 10 deaths each, between 2003 and 2008, the China Labour Bulletin reported last year.
The city's most powerful job, that of party secretary, went unfilled for more than six months in 2008 and 2009 as officials appeared to shy away.