Thirty-four miners have been confirmed dead after a gas leak accident in a coal mine in southwest China's Yunnan province, official news agency Xinhua reported on Sunday.
The accident occurred on Thursday morning at the Sizhuang coal mine located in the county of Shizong near the city of Qujing. There were over 40 miners under the ground when the accident occurred.
As of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 34 bodies were found while nine miners are still trapped underground, the agency said, quoting Qujing government spokesman Li Jianjun.
Hundreds of rescuers are continuing their search for the trapped miners. Another 181-meter-long section of the tunnel has yet to be cleared but the operation could be hampered by the risk of large amounts of gas underground.
The mine was operating illegally and its license had been revoked a year ago, the agency said.
The coal industry in energy-hungry China is one of the most dangerous in the world due to poor work safety standards and intensive work schedules. In the first nine months of 2011, coal mine accidents have claimed the lives of 1,419 miners in China.