Seventeen coal miners have died after being trapped by a weekend gas explosion in northwestern China, an official news agency reported today.
The miners were trapped after an explosion  at the mine on Saturday, 120 kilometres from Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, Xinhua News Agency said. The blast at the mine in Fukang City happened at 8.43pm on Saturday evening.
But Xinhua said today the 17 workers had died and the cause of the incident was under investigation.
Three other people working inside the mine were rescued earlier.
The process, which was started early on Sunday morning, needed to be continued for 24 hours before it would be safe to enter the pit, the rescuers said.
Xinhua said the pit is mined by Dahuangshan Yuxin Coal Mining Company, owned by the sixth agricultural division of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
The corps is a paramilitary organisation that was revived by the central government in the 1980s to aid the region's construction and development.
China has the world's deadliest mines, although the safety record has improved as regulators strengthen enforcement of safety rules.