Work safety regulators on Sunday ordered local authorities to improve coal mine safety and draw a lesson from a recent gas explosion in northeast China that killed five people.
The gas blast occurred on March 22 at the Dahuang No. 2 Coal Mine in the city of Liaoyang, Liaoning province. The accident killed five people, trapped 17 and injured one. Rescue work is currently under way, the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) said in a circular posted on its website on Sunday.
The circular said the accident exposed many problems, including illegal mining, substandard working conditions and a failure to report to safety authorities in a timely fashion.
Local authorities had ordered the mine to suspend operations before the blast happened, but the mine continued operating illegally, the circular said.
The mine did not have two emergency exits as stipulated by mining industry regulations, and its ventilation system fell short of basic requirements, according to the circular.
The administration ordered local authorities to severely crack down on illegal production activities, reinforce supervision over suspended mines and improve their emergency management and response abilities.
The circular said more severe punishments will be handed down for anyone found responsible for causing a coal mine accident as a result of illegal production.
China's mines are among the deadliest in the world. Data from the SAWS showed that 1,973 miners were killed in coal mine accidents in 2011. The death toll for that year, however, was 19 percent lower than that of 2010.