The death toll from a coal mine gas explosion in central China's Henan province rose to 44 Thursday with 35 miners still trapped underground, the local safety watchdog said Thursday morning.
The 14 workers who managed to escape have been admitted to a local hospital. Most suffered burns to their respiratory systems. Three of the injured are in intensive care, including two in critical condition, hospital sources said.
The deadly blast took place at about 1 am on Tuesday in the Pingdingshan Coal Group's Xinhua No 4 pit in the Xinhua District of Pingdingshan city.
Rescue work is continuing.
Economic compensation for each bereaved family will be more than 200,000 yuan ($29,286), the local media office said yesterday.
The government of Sanmenxia in Henan province yesterday kicked off an investigation into another coal mine accident, which killed 13 people on Wednesday.
A vice-mayor and an official in charge of work safety have been suspended from their posts, and two officials were dismissed yesterday, according to the local media office.
Local police detained the workers' team leader and two managers of the mine were dismissed, said the office.
A statement on the State Administration of Work Safety's website yesterday said the cause for the coal mine explosion is still under investigation. It said only 14 miners managed to flee to safety.
Xinhua said the coal mine was operating illegally and that its owners had been placed under police surveillance and the company's bank accounts frozen.