15 dead, several trapped in coal mining explosion in western China

Rescuers in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing were still trying to locate Tuesday 18 missing miners feared dead after being trapped underground following a gas explosion that killed 15 others on Monday.

China's coal mines continue to be among the deadliest in the world.

The accident, Dow Jones reports, happened at a mine run by Jinshangou Coal Industry Co. shortly before noon.

Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and safety specialists were immediately dispatched to the site to locate and save the missing miners.

Although the toll from accidents has fallen in the past two years, China's coal mines continue to be among the deadliest in the world because of poor safety and the rush to feed energy demand from the world's second-largest economy.

It is estimated that more than 3,000 workers die in Chinese mines every year, mostly at coal operations.

Only last month a similar blast killed 18 people in the Northwestern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. Another 22 were killed in a gas explosion in Chongqing's Wansheng District in May.

Following that blast, authorities temporarily closed all local coal mines with an annual output of less than 90,000 tonnes.