At least two people were killed and more than 50 left missing after a coal mine collapsed in northern China’s Inner Mongolia on Wednesday. “A number of workers and vehicles were buried in a large-scale collapse which happened at around 1pm at the open-pit coal mine in Alxa Left Banner,” state broadcaster CCTV reported, referring to a southwestern administrative division of the autonomous region. Eight people had been rescued by 7pm but two of them were later confirmed dead. The rescue operation will continue as 53 more people are still missing, local authorities said. The cave-in had occurred over a “wide area” of a mine operated by the Xinjing Coal Mining Company, the CCTV report said. China warns security is at risk from external reliance on critical resources Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have ordered an investigation into the accident and said no efforts must be spared in the rescue operation, according to the report. More than 300 rescue workers had been dispatched to the scene and the local mine safety administration had designated the operation as top priority. Inner Mongolia is one of China’s top coal producing regions and had stepped up production rates over the past year under a nationwide drive to increase supply and stabilise prices in a bid to ensure energy security. Mine safety, long a headache for China, has improved in recent decades compared to the early 2000s – when accidents caused hundreds of casualties each year. But deadly accidents still occur from time to time. Last December, 40 miners were trapped when a gold mine collapsed in Yili in northwestern Xinjiang region. Only 22 of them emerged alive after weeks of rescue operations. Of 367 mine accidents and 518 deaths reported in China last year, 168 accidents and 245 fatalities were related to coal mines, according to official data. The figure for 2021 was 380 accidents and 531 coal-related deaths.