At least 20 workers were killed and 17 others trapped underground when a gas explosion hit a coal mine in China's central Henan province today, the latest in a series of mishaps that have rocked the country's mining sector considered the most dangerous in the world.
The blast took place in the mine situated in Yuzhou city of the province at 6 am local time, the official Xinhua news agency reported, quoting the rescue headquarters officials.
Rescuers retrieved 20 bodies and were searching for the trapped minors after "a sudden coal and gas outburst" in the mine owned by Pingyu Coal and Electric Company Limited, the National Work Safety Agency said.
Mine accidents have become common in China following immense demand for coal to back up energy supplies.
China had recently announced a new set of safety rules asking the managers of the mines to accompany the workers during the operations.
China's mining industry is considered the most dangerous in the world, with more than 2,600 workers killed in accidents last year alone.
More than 1,000 small, illegal coal mines were shut down this year as part of efforts to improve safety standards.