Beijing: In one of the worst mine accidents in China in recent months, at least 26 miners were killed and 21 others remained trapped underground after a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in southwest China, officials said on Thursday.
The death toll kept mounting after a blast in the mine in southwest China`s Sichuan Province, last evening.
Twenty-one miners remained trapped underground, and their condition was not immediately known, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Rescue efforts at the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in the city of Panzhihua were proceeding but were hampered by high temperatures in the gas-filled pit, according to the headquarters.
Temperatures reached 80 to 90 degrees centigrade and carbon monoxide was dense in the zone where the miners were trapped.
Currently, only some mask-wearing ambulance men have been able to enter, authorities said.
A total of 154 miners were working underground when the accident took place yesterday evening and 107 of them were rescued out of the shaft.
Fifty-one miners were sent to hospitals, among them seven were critically injured.
Mine accidents continue to cause heavy casualties at regular intervals in energy-hungry China despite claims by the government of increasing safety standards.
The coal mine, some 750 kilometres southwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, is owned by Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co Ltd.
The owner of the mine is under police custody.