At least seven people were killed, five others injured and another missing when a gas blast ripped through a private coal mine in southwest China's Yunnan Province, local officials said.
The blast occurred on Saturday in Shunxing Coal Mine in Fuyuan Township of Qujing City, in eastern Yunnan. 27 miners were working underground, and 14 managed to escape.
More than 400 rescuers struggled to pull out seven bodies and five miners alive. One miner remains missing, Xinhua news agency reported.
The coal mine, which was built in 1984 had been ordered to suspend operation and go through renovation after local administration staff inspected the mine on Friday, but coal mine managers secretly organised the miners to work in the night, it said.
China's coal mines are notorious for their high accident rates.
A total of 1,792 coal miners died in 1,066 mishaps in China, the world's top coal producer and consumer, during the first half (January-June) of 2007.
In 2006, coal mine accidents killed 4,746 people in China in 2006 with an average of 13 deaths per day.