The State Administration of Work Safety over the weekend said the colliery blast that has so far killed 44 coal miners in Panzhihua, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, was caused by a severe infraction of work safety rules.
It is the deadliest coal mine accident since 2009, and the 44 deaths account for one quarter of the total number of miners killed by gas explosions since January this year.
The Panzhihua press office said Sunday that 41 of the victims died in the mine, while the other three died on the way to hospital. Fifty-four injured miners are being treated in four hospitals.
The rescue work was continuing as two miners remained trapped underground.
"The illegal operation of the mine has also hindered the rescue work," said Yang Dongliang, director of the administration.
Yang said the narrow mine tunnel made it difficult for rescuers to enter the mine and extract the injured miners.
A total of 154 miners were working underground when the explosion occurred around 5 pm August 29 at the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine, which is located some 750 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital of Chengdu.
The mine is owned by Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co.
Fu Jianhua, director of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety, said the mine failed to provide rescuers with a map of the mine and has attempted to cover up infractions of safety rules.
Panzhihua has ordered an overall suspension of coal mining in the city.
The city has also ordered the complete closure of all mines with an annual capacity of fewer than 60,000 tons in a wide-ranging safety campaign.
Global Times - Xinhua