China coal mine disasters - 70 trapped
Beijing - Nearly 70 miners were trapped underground and at least eight have died in a spate of mining accidents that have jolted China's dangerous mine industry in recent days, state media reported on Thursday.
Four miners were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in western-most China's Xinjiang region on Thursday, with one seriously injured, Xinhua news agency said.
A dozen workers were in the mine at the time of the explosion while seven escaped the shaft, it said. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.
Meanwhile the death toll in a flooded mine in south China's Guangxi province rose to four, with 18 still trapped while rescuers worked frantically to save free them, Xinhua said in a separate report.
The flood occurred on Saturday when 71 miners were in the mine, it said.
In east China's Shandong province on Thursday, the number of miners trapped in a coal mine in Zaozhuang city dropped to 28, following efforts to save workers stuck in the shaft following a Wednesday night fire.
Since the fire broke out, a rescue team of over 1 000 have been working to save the over 90 miners in the mine, Xinhua said.
Notoriously poor safety record
Twenty-three miners remain trapped in a coal mine in southwest China's Guizhou province that also flooded on Saturday.
China's coal mines have a notoriously poor safety record, which the government has repeatedly pledged to address.
In its latest campaign, the government issued a policy last year that required six kinds of safety systems, including rescue facilities, to be installed in all coal mines within three years.
In 2010, 2 433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics - a rate of more than six workers per day.
Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.