22 dead in south-west China coal mine accident

BEIJING (AFP) - Twenty-two people have been killed in an accident at a coalmine in the south-west Chinese city of Chongqing, state media reportedon Tuesday.

The accident at the Yanshitai coal mine occurred in the afternoon and was described as a "gas incident" by local authorities, China's official news agency Xinhua said.

Mining accidents are common in China, the world's largest consumer of coal, where mine operators often skirt safety regulations.

Twenty people died in April when a coalmine in China's south-west Yunnan province suddenly flooded, leaving miners trapped.

Last year, China recorded 589 mining-related accidents, leaving 1,049 people dead or missing, according to the government. But both the number of accidents and fatalities were down more than 24 percent from 2012.

Authorities have sought to shut down small mines, a major source of accidents, in an effort to consolidate the industry.

In December last year, an explosion killed 21 workers at a coal mine in China's western Xinjiang region, one of a series of such accidents in recent years.