China mine accident kills 27: State media

BEIJING (AFP) - An accidental explosion at a coal mine in south-west China killed 27 miners on Saturday, state media said, in the second deadly incident to hit the country's troubled industry in as many days.

A total of 81 miners were rescued after the blast at the Taozigou mine in Luzhou city, Sichuan Province, with 16 taken to hospital with injuries, Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.

The incident comes after a gas explosion at a colliery in the south-western province of Guizhou Friday killed 12 miners, according to Xinhua.

China's mines are among the world's deadliest because of lax regulation, corruption and poor operating procedures. Accidents are common because safety is often neglected by bosses seeking easy profits.

Official figures show 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011, a 19 per cent fall on the previous year.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

China is the world's biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 per cent of its growing energy needs.