21 workers killed after gas explosion at western Xinjiang coal mine
An explosion has killed 21 workers at a coal mine in the far western Xinjiang region, Xinhua reported.
According to the report, 34 miners were working underground at the Baiyanggou mine at the time of the explosion. Twelve managed to escape but 22 were trapped by the blast. Only one of the trapped miners survived the explosion.
Mining accidents are common on the mainland, which is the world's largest consumer of coal and where mine operators often skirt safety regulations.
Last year, 1,384 people were killed in coal mining accidents, according to official Chinese figures, down from 1,973 in 2011.
Some rights groups argue that the actual figure is significantly higher due to under-reporting by mining companies.
In an effort to address mine safety concerns, state officials last year moved to shut more than 600 small mines, which are deemed more dangerous than larger ones. But high-profile accidents have continued this year.
In May, more than 50 miners were killed in two accidental explosions in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in the southwest, after a blast at a coal mine in the northeastern province of Jilin in March killed 28 people.
On the same day a huge landslide crashed down a mountainside in Tibet, entombing 83 workers in two million cubic metres of earth. There were no survivors.
In October, 10 miners were killed when a mine was flooded in the northern province of Shaanxi . Two miners were rescued after being trapped underground by the flood for 10 days.