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At least 18 trapped in latest China mine accident

XI'AN, CHINA (BNO NEWS) -- In the latest mine accident in China, at least eighteen people were reported trapped at a mine in the country's northwestern region, local authorities said Thursday.

At least twenty people were working at the t Ruifeng Coal Mine located in Yulin city of Fugu county in the province of Shaanxi, when a roof collapsed at around 7 p.m. local time.

Emergency teams were deployed to the mine, and almost three hours after the accident, which occurred at one of the mine's colliery, two workers had been pulled out safely while the other 18 remained trapped underground.

The cause of the accident was no immediately known, as rescue teams remain uncertain of the miners' condition.

Safety conditions at mines in China have significantly improved in recent years, with the government shutting down scores of small mines to improve safety and efficiency. The country has also ordered all mines to build emergency shelter systems by June 2013 which are to be equipped with machines to produce oxygen and air conditioning, protective walls and airtight doors to protect workers against toxic gases and other hazardous factors.

The first manned test of such a permanent underground chamber was carried out in August when around 100 people - including managers, engineers, miners, medical staff, and the chamber's developers - took part in a 48-hour test at a mine owned by the China National Coal Group in the city of Shuozhou in northern China's Shanxi Province.

One of the worst mining accidents in China in recent years happened in November 2009 when 104 workers were killed after several explosions at a coal mine in Heilongjiang province.

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