An accidental explosion at a coal mine in southwest China killed 22 miners on Saturday, state media said, in the latest deadly incident to hit the country’s troubled industry.
Nine others were trapped after the blast at the Taozigou coal mine in Sichuan Province, Xinhua reported, citing the country’s work safety authorities. At the time of the accident at 2:00 pm, 108 miners were underground, the report said.
China’s mines are among the world’s deadliest because of lax regulation, corruption and poor operating procedures. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking easy profits.
Official figures show 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011, a 19 percent fall on the previous year.
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 biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 percent of its growing energy needs.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]