AT LEAST 46 miners were killed yesterday when an explosion ripped through an illegally operated coal mine in central China in the latest disaster to strike the world’s deadliest coal industry. Many more miners remained trapped underground. The blast hit a mine in Pingdingshan city in the province of Henan, China’s third largest coal producing province, the state administration of work safety told the Xinhua news agency. Seventy-two miners were trapped initially and 26 escaped. A store of explosives blew up at the No 2 Xingdong mine, and six of the survivors were badly burned. An explosion at Pingdingshan in September last year killed 35 people and production was halted at all 157 mines in the city. The No 2 Xingdong mine had reportedly lost its licence to operate earlier this month but had illegally hooked up its electricity and begun operating again. The mine has an annual production capacity of 90,000 tons, Xinhua said.