China safety crews rescue 23 people trapped after blast at iron ore project

BEIJING (Reuters) - Safety crews in China’s Liaoning province rescued almost two dozen people who were trapped after a blast at an iron ore mining project, state media said on Wednesday, the latest deadly incident in one of the world’s top mining nations.

The explosion at the site, which is under construction, killed 11 people and injured nine on Tuesday morning, according to online reports by the People’s Daily and CCTV.

On Wednesday, state television showed live images of rescue crews and heavy machinery being used to pull the survivors from the project.

Two people were still missing, state media said.

Iron ore futures rallied on Wednesday morning on news of the explosion even as the market remains in a hefty surplus due to big imports. China is the world’s top consumer of the steelmaking ingredient.

The project in Benxi city, which is owned by the Huamei Group, is the first phase of the facility due to open in 2019 producing 15 million tonnes per year.

Telephone calls made to Huamei and the Benxi city government went unanswered.

China’s government has taken action to try to improve the poor safety record at many mines.

In May, an explosion at a small coal mine in China’s Hunan province killed two workers while another three are missing, the Hunan coal mine safety regulation bureau said.

At 10:18 a.m. (0218 GMT), the most-active prices for delivery in September were up 2.6 percent at 474 yuan ($74.13) per tonne.

Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee in Singapore, Min Zhang in Beijing and John Ruwitch in Shanghai; additional reporting by Tom Daly and Muyu Xu; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Darren Schuettler