[BEIJING] At least 18 people were killed and two more missing after an explosion on Tuesday in a Chinese coal mine, state media reported, the latest disaster in the country's notoriously dangerous mines.
A gas explosion ripped through the colliery in the northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Tuesday morning.
The mine was operated by Linli Coal Mining company in the city of Shizuishan, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
In a report late Tuesday, it said a miner had died after he was rescued and 17 bodies had been recovered from the mineshaft, with two people still missing.
20 miners were working under ground at the time of the incident. More than 200 rescuers are at the pit, it added.
China is the world's largest coal producer and deadly mining accidents are common.
In March, 19 people were killed in a coal mine accident in the northern province of Shanxi.
Officials say the number dying annually in the country's mines has fallen substantially in the past decade, to fewer than 1,000 a year. But some rights groups argue the actual figures are significantly higher due to under-reporting.
Many accidents are caused by corrupt bosses seeking profits over worker safety.
Industrial safety standards are often flouted in China even though deadly incidents regularly make national news.
China has vowed to cut some two million jobs in its coal and steel industries, which suffer from massive overcapacity.