Beijing: At least 19 miners were killed and four others remained trapped underground after a gas outburst hit a coal mine in Southwest China`s Guizhou Province.
The search is in full swing after gas density in the pit declined and rescuers are expected to reach the trapped miners this afternoon, said Yin Zhihua, Vice Mayor of Liupanshui, in a statement today, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Twenty-eight miners were working underground when the accident occurred yesterday morning at the Xiangshui Coal Mine, the provincial authorities said.
By last night, five miners were rescued, with the condition of one being critical, local officials said.
The mine sits on a coal deposit of 1.3 billion tonnes.
Coal produced by Xiangshui feeds Pannan Power Station in the region, which is considered a key part of the government`s strategy to send electricity from its resource-rich western region to the power-hungry industry belts in the east.
According to government figures released in mid-October, 1,146 people died in 650 mining accidents this year.
About 46.5 per cent of the deaths were caused by illegal mining operations.
Authorities intended to shut down 625 small mines this year to boost mining safety.
The cabinet ordered tightened coal mine safety supervision. It said in a circular that coal mines which have failed to meet the safety standards should not be reopened and those who abuse their power to lower overhaul standards would be punished.