A taskforce is created to investigate the accident, in which 33 miners died Rescue workers have finished searching a coal mine in Yangquan , Shanxi province , where a gas explosion on Thursday killed 33 miners, Xinhua reported yesterday. Seventy-one miners were working in a tunnel when the blast ripped through the mine, Xinhua said, quoting local work-safety authorities. Forty-three miners escaped. Five who re-entered the mine in an attempt to rescue their colleagues lost their lives. Xinhua said 24 miners injured in the explosion were no longer in critical condition. The tunnel was not seriously damaged by the explosion and the bodies of all 33 dead miners had been found. The news agency said the coal mine, operated by the Nanlou Township Industry Group, was capable of producing 150,000 tonnes of coal a year. A special task force has been set up to investigate the tragedy. After Thursday's gas explosion, Yangquan authorities ordered all local coal mines, except those run by the Yangquan Coal Industry Group, the largest state-run mining firm in the city, to halt all production yesterday until safety checks had been carried out. Inspectors would be looking for work practices and conditions that put miners' lives at risk. The Yangquan explosion came less than two weeks after a blast in Shaanxi province killed 166 miners in the nation's deadliest coal mining accident in years. The bodies of about 100 miners remain trapped in the mine, in Tongchuan , after four minor explosions disrupted retrieval attempts on December 2. No rescue workers were injured in the most recent explosions at Tongchuan but the local government called a halt to the search, saying it would not risk more lives to retrieve the bodies. The minor explosions started a fire in the coal mine and the rescue team started to fill it with water to douse the flames on December 3, Xinhua reported. Rescue experts said it would take about 20 days to put the fire out. Some families of the victims of the Tongchuan explosion have signed compensation agreements with the firm that operated the mine. Under the agreements, the family of each victim will be entitled to a minimum of 80,000 yuan in compensation. 482 miners and rescue workers have died in 11 accidents at mainland coal mines in the past 50 days October 20, Xinmi, Henan province 148 miners killed in a gas explosion at the Daping mine October 20, Chongqing 13 miners killed in a gas explosion October 20, Wuan, Hebei province 29 miners killed in a water leakage accident at a privately run mine, owner reported six people missing only October 22, Zhenfeng, Guizhou province 15 miners killed in a gas explosion October 30, Fushun, Liaoning province 15 miners killed in a gas poisoning case November 5, Shuozhou, Shanxi province 16 miners killed in a gas explosion November 13, Chengdu, Sichuan province 19 miners killed in a gas explosion November 23, Taiyuan, Shanxi province 12 miners killed in a gas explosion November 28, Tongchuan, Shanxi province 166 miners killed in a gas explosion December 1, Liupanshui, Guizhou province 16 miners killed in a gas explosion December 9, Yangquan, Shanxi province 33 miners killed in a gas explosion 4,153 deaths were recorded at mainland coal mines in the first nine months of the year. *only counting accidents in which at least 10 people died Why are the death tolls so high? Many miners are farm workers who receive little safety training before being sent to work in the mines. Some mine owners tamper with the gas alarm meters or even turn them off to keep miners working in dangerous but high-yield areas. Mine owners ignore closure orders and keep unsafe mines running, or bribe inspectors to turn a blind eye to problems. Minor accidents are covered up and families of victims are often sent away after owners pay them small sums to keep quiet. Child labour is widespread. Rescue teams are ill-equipped and some even lack basic tools.