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Search continues for 20 coal miners in China's Chongqing after gas explosion

Twenty miners are still trapped in a coal mine in southwestern China. Hundreds of rescuers are working their way through blocked passageways towards the trapped men.

China Grubenunglück in Jinshangou (picture alliance/Photoshot/Xinhua)

Rescuers continue the search for trapped miners

Rescuers have worked continuously to find trapped miners and the bodies of those who died in the explosion before noon on Monday at the privately-owned Jinshangou mine in the Chongqing region.

"We are still working all-out to search for the 20 missing miners, and will exert our utmost as long as there's still a ray of hope," Chongqing deputy mayor Ma Huaping said, according to the Xinhua official news agency. Two miners were able to escape.

The death toll of 15 was revised down to 13 by authorities on Tuesday.

Some 400 workers were reported to be trying to rescue more miners but were being hindered by debris blocking some of the mine's passageways.

Investigation ordered

The State Administration of Work Safety has ordered an investigation into the blast, "adding that those responsible must be strictly punished."

Officials in Chongqing also ordered the temporary shutdown of mines producing less than 90,000 tons of coal a year, Xinhua said.

Listen to audio 07:39

World in Progress: China's sinking mining communities

China is the world's largest producer and consumer of coal. It has announced plans to close more than a thousand outdated mines, as part of a broader plan to cut down on overproduction.

While exact figures for mine safety in China are not available, the country's mines are known for being dangerous, with many miners dying in accidents each year.

jm/kl (AP, dpa)

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