A total of 37 people have died from two coal mine accidents in China, including 26 workers at Liaoning Fuxin Coal’s mine in the Liaoning province and 11 people in south-west China’s Guizhou province.
According to Xinhua news agency, a fire broke out in the early hours of Wednesday morning at Liaoning Fuxin Coal’s mine, after a 1.6 magnitude earthquake hit the area.
The mine is operated by Hengda Coal, a subsidiary of the state-owned Liaoning Fuxin Coal.
According to officials, among the 50 injured workers, 18 are in a serious condition having suffered burns and respiratory damage.
Fuxin Coal deputy general manager He Chuan said that the fire may have been caused by sparks from rocks shaking after the tremor.
The news agency reported that rescue operations have been completed and production is suspended while safety checks are carried out.
In a separate accident, 11 workers were killed on Thursday at Songlin coal mine in Songhe Town, Pan County.
At the time of the incident, 19 people were working at the mine and eight managed to escape, Xinhua reported.
Claimed to be one of the largest coal producers in the region, Songlin came into operation in 1987 with an annual production capacity of 1.5 million tonnes a year.
Chinese mines lack the enforcement of safety standards and are considered some of the deadliest in the world.
In October, sixteen workers were killed in a coal mine accident in Xinjiang’s western region.
Government statistics reveal that in 2013, the country recorded 589 mining-related accidents leaving 1,049 people dead or missing; however, the number of accidents and fatalities have declined by more than 24% since 2012.
China plans to shutdown more than 2,000 small-scale coal mines by 2015 in a bid to dispose of outdated capacity and improve safety at work.