A gas explosion at a coal mine in western China has killed 21 workers, a Chinese government official confirmed Saturday.
Over 30 miners were reported to be trapped by the blast in the Xinjiang region’s Changi prefecture on Friday. Twelve of those trapped were able to escape without injury.
An official at the Xinjiang region's work safety bureau said that 21 miners were confirmed dead and another one who had been trapped was injured. The official refused to give further details and said the incident was under investigation.
China's mines are the deadliest in the world and suffer from frequent explosions, floods and cave-ins. They are often built in a rush in order to feed the country’s ever-growing need for energy.
Such accidents are usually caused by a failure to ventilate methane gas from the shaft.
Safety improvements have reduced the number of deaths in recent years, but regulations are still often ignored.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported that the mine had been ordered to suspend production in June to make safety improvements.
The government plans to shut about 2,000 small coal mines by 2015 to improve safety standards.
Al Jazeera and wire services