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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 March, 2005, 07:50 GMT
China blast kills schoolchildren
An explosion in a mining town in northern China has killed about 20 people, most of them schoolchildren.

The accident occurred when explosives stored at the home of a mine operator blew up in Shanxi province.

The blast caused a neighbouring primary school to collapse. The mine operator is among the dead.

The practice of keeping explosives at home is illegal but common in China's mining areas. Shanxi is home to the country's largest coal industry.

The house of local mine operator Lu Maolin was just metres from a small primary school.

He was known to keep dynamite on the premises.

Local officials say that up to 20 schoolchildren were in the building at the time.

Most are feared dead, as well as several teachers.

China has two kinds of mines - state operations that are thought to be safer and smaller private mines, such as the one in Kecheng that are less regulated.

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