Twenty seven miners died and seven others remained trapped following a colliery blast in a coal-rich province in north China as rescue operations were hampered due to the presence of explosives in the mine, officials said.
While bodies of all the deceased miners were pulled out from the shaft of Anxin Coal Mining company in Shanxi province, efforts to save those trapped were hampered after rescuers found several unused explosives and detonators and had to leave the mine, state media said.
High density of toxic gas and the collapsing of certain areas under the mine also came in the way of rescuers, who had earlier saved nine miners, it said adding more than 100 rescuers were involved the operation.
Fifty eight miners were working underground when the blast tore through the mine, state-run Xinhua news agency said quoting rescuers and officials. Fifteen of the workers managed to escape on their own, it added.
Meanwhile, Wang Jun, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, said a team would be formed to investigate whether the mine met safety requirements, although it had production permission certificates.
State Administration of Coal Mine Safety Director Zhao Tiechui said an initial analysis showed Anxin had many problems, ranging from the use of explosives unsuitable for mining to excessive production. The company also illegally mined unapproved areas and had poor ventilation facilities.
Chinas mining industry is the deadliest in the world with very high frequency of accidents, blamed often on lack of safety measures. More than 3,800 people died in mining industry related accidents last year in the country.