Mining accident in China's Shaanxi province kills 21

A total of 87 people were working underground in the Shaanxi province mine at the time of the accident.
A total of 87 people were working underground in the Shaanxi province mine at the time of the accident.PHOTO: EPA-EFE/XINHUA

BEIJING (AFP) - The death toll in a coal mine roof collapse in northern China has risen to 21 after rescuers found two more miners dead on Sunday (Jan 13), state media reported.

A total of 87 people were working underground in the Shaanxi province mine at the time of the accident on Saturday afternoon, according to official news agency Xinhua, citing local authorities.

Rescuers had been searching for two remaining trapped miners but found them dead on Sunday morning, Xinhua reported. Another 66 miners were safely evacuated from the mine.

The cause of the accident at the site, run by Baiji Mining, is still under investigation.

Deadly mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record despite efforts to improve coal production conditions and crack down on illegal mines.

In December last year, seven miners were killed and three others injured in an accident at a coal mine in China's south-west.

In October, 21 miners died in eastern Shandong province after pressure inside a mine caused rocks to fracture and break, blocking the tunnel and trapping workers. Only one miner was rescued alive.

According to China's National Coal Mine Safety Administration, the country saw 375 coal mining-related deaths in 2017, down 28.7 per cent year on year.

But despite improvements, "the situation of coal mine safety production is still grim", the bureau said in a statement following a coal mine safety conference in January last year.