BEIJING, China - In what is being dubbed as the deadliest mining accident in China this year, 21 miners were killed after the roof of a coal mine collapsed in the country's Shaanxi province.
A report in the state-run Peoples Daily on Sunday revealed that the incident took place at the Lijiagou mine in the city of Shenmu in northwest China at around 4.30 pm (0830 GMT) on Saturday.
The report claimed that the roof of the mine, which is owned by Baiji Mining Co Ltd, collapsed when 87 people were underground.
Authorities quoted in the report confirmed that 66 miners were rescued from the mine, while 21 were trapped underground.
Initially, local reports claimed that 19 of the 21 trapped miners were found dead after the roof caved in.
However, emergency operations to rescue two missing miners continued for hours after the accident at the end of which, their bodies were found.
According to a report in the official news agency Xinhua, city government officials confirmed on Sunday that 66 miners were safely evacuated.
The report also stated that the cause of the accident at the site is under investigation.
It noted that authorities in Shanxi province would carry out inspections at high-risk coal mines in the region after Saturday's accident became the deadliest reported so far this year in Chinas coal industry.
Poor safety record in focus
Deadly mining accidents in China have become common in recent years, despite the government's efforts to improve safety.
The frequent accidents and increasing mining casualties in the country has earned China's mining industry the status of being one the deadliest in the world.
Saturday's accident comes merely weeks after seven workers were killed and three others were injured in an underground transport accident at the Fengchun coal mine under the Chongqing Energy Group in Chinas southwestern city of Chongqing.
The accident, which occurred on December 17, 2018, took place when the connecting segment of a mining skip broke, which led it to slide down the inclined shaft.
Before that, an accident at a coal mine in Yuncheng county of Shangdong province left eight miners dead in October last year.
Authorities said at the time that pressure inside the Yuncheng coal mine caused rocks to rip apart and break, killing workers inside.
Security checks at 41 coal mines in the Shandong province were ordered soon after the accident.
In June 2018, 11 workers were killed and nine others were injured in a powerful explosion at an iron mine in China's northeast Liaoning province.
Before that, in May of last year, a methane gas explosion inside a coal mine in the country's central Hunan province killed at least five workers.
According to authorities in China, which is the worlds largest producer of coal,
the number of deaths from mining accidents have reduced in recent years, but the number of accidents have continued to rise.
Last year, in a bid to improve safety conditions, Chinas coal mine safety watchdog launched inspections of mines across the country.
The inspections are expected to continue until June this year.
Earlier this week, the state-backed Shanghai Securities News (SSN) reported that some mining firms in major coal hubs in Shandong and Henan provinces, along with some in parts of northeastern China have received notices from the National Coal Mine Safety Administration.
The notices reportedly ordered the mines to halt operations for inspections.