The death toll from a gas explosion at a colliery in south-west China has risen to 26 as rescue workers continued efforts to pull out another 21 still trapped underground, state media reported on Friday.
A total of 154 miners were working underground at the Xiaojiawan mine in the city of Panzhihua in Sichuan province when the blast occurred on Wednesday afternoon, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Rescuers had pulled out 107 people by Thursday evening and rushed 51 of them to hospital.
Rescue efforts were still on while the individual responsible for the mine had been detained. But efforts to save the trapped miners had been made difficult because of high temperature and the presence of toxic carbon monoxide in the mine.
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 statistics show that 1,973 people had died in colliery accidents in China last year. Labor 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 percent of its growing energy needs.
by RTT Staff Writer
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