GUIYANG, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- Nineteen miners were confirmed dead, and four others remain trapped after a coal-gas outburst hit a coal mine in southwest China's Guizhou Province on Saturday, rescuers said Sunday.
The search is full in swing after gas density in the pit has declined, and rescuers are expected to reach the trapped miners this afternoon, said Yin Zhihua, vice mayor of Liupanshui, in a brief.
Twenty-eight miners were working underground when the accident occurred at 10:55 a.m. at the Xiangshui Coal Mine, the provincial authorities said.
By 9 p.m., five miners have been rescued, with one being in critical conditions, local officials said.
The coal mine, operated by Pannan Coal Exploitation Co., Ltd, is located in Panxian County of the coal-rich Liupanshui City. It went into operation in 2006 with a designed annual output of 4 million tonnes. The mine sits on a coal deposit of 1.3 billion tonnes.
Coal produced by Xiangshui feeds Pannan Power Station in the region, which is considered a key part of the government's strategy to send electricity from its resource-rich western region to the power-hungry industry belts in the east.
According to government figures released in mid-October, 1,146 people died in 650 mining accidents this year. About 46.5 percent of the deaths were caused by illegal mining operations.
Authorities intended to shut down 625 small mines this year to boost mining safety.
The State Council, or the cabinet, on Saturday ordered tightened coal mine safety supervision.
It said in a circular that coal mines which have failed to meet the safety standards should not be reopened and those who abuse their power to lower overhaul standards would be punished.