BEIJING: A gas explosion at a coal mine in southwest China has killed 19 miners and trapped 28 underground, authorities said Thursday, in the latest disaster to hit the country’s troubled mining industry.
Around 150 miners were working underground at the Xiaojiawan mine in the city of Panzhihua in Sichuan province when the blast occurred on Wednesday afternoon, city authorities said in an online statement.
Rescue workers pulled 104 people out of the mine by early Thursday morning and they were rushed to local hospitals, where three of them died. Another 16 of the remaining 44 trapped underground were confirmed dead, it said.
Rescue efforts were still under way and the individual responsible for the mine had been detained, the city government said on its website.
China's mines are known for being among the world’s most deadly due to lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency, and accidents are common as safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.
Latest official figures show 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in
China in 2011, a 19 per cent fall in fatalities compared to a year earlier.
Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.
China is the world's leading consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 per cent of its growing energy needs.
Authorities in Panzhihua could not immediately be reached for further comment.