Safety at China’s coal mines improved last year, with the numbers of accidents and deaths decreasing from the previous year, the government said on Saturday. China has the world’s deadliest coal mines, and authorities have made it a priority to improve safety by enforcing rules. The central government said there were 589 mining accidents last year, leaving 1,049 people dead or missing. It did not give figures for prior years, but said the numbers had declined by more than 24 per cent. Industry reports from a year ago say more than 1,300 people died in mining accidents in China in 2012 and 1,973 died in 2011, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. Both figures do not include missing people. Last month, a gas explosion at a coal mine in western China’s Xinjiang region killed 22 people in one of the deadliest accidents of the year.