Beijing: The death toll from two separate colliery accidents in southwest China has risen to 40, even as the authorities blamed illegal mining for the tragedies.
Rescuers have saved 80 miners, while 28 others were confirmed dead in the gas explosion that took place yesterday in Taozigou coal mine in southwest China`s Sichuan Province.
The accident occurred in the afternoon when 108 miners were working underground in the mine Luxian County in the city of Luzhou., state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Earlier, 12 miners were killed and two others injured in a colliery gas explosion in southwest China`s Guizhou Province, local authorities said.
The accident happened yesterday in the Dashan coal mine in Pingba County when 30 people were in the mine, according to the Guizhou Provincial Administration of Work Safety.
Government authorities have ordered the closure of Dashan coal mine and a deputy county head who oversees the safety work in Pingba was suspended for further investigations.
Meanwhile, the State Administration of Work Safety has ordered all coal mines in Sichuan province to suspend operation for a comprehensive overhaul and thorough checks.
An initial investigation indicated that unauthorised mining at the Taozigou coal mine was the main reason behind the gas blast.
The explosion was a result of high gas density due to poor ventilation, said Fu Jianhua, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS), a body that supervises the country`s mining activities.
SAWS director Yang Dongliang said licenses of the coal mine must be revoked and the site will be shut down permanently.
A thorough investigation into the cause of the accident is underway as the with the work safety watchdog has said small-scale mines that fail to meet work safety conditions must be shut down.
Energy-hungry China`s coal mines report scores of accidents every year with hundreds of casualties. The incidents are often blamed on poor safety standards.