Race to rescue trapped China miners

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, rescuers work at Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in Panzhihua City, southwest China's Sichuan Province, 30 August, 2012
Image caption Rescue efforts for the remaining miners trapped are hampered by high temperature

Efforts to rescue the remaining 10 workers trapped in a south-west China coal mine are being hampered by high temperature and poisonous carbon monoxide, state media say.

Meanwhile the death toll from a gas explosion at the Xiaojiawan mine in Panzhihua city in Sichuan province has risen to 37, Xinhua news agency said.

The blast happened on Wednesday evening when about 150 miners were underground.

More than 100 have been rescued and taken to hospital, reports say.

Chinese state television said rescue teams had retrieved the bodies of 16 miners who died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Another three people later died in hospital.

The mine owners, Zhengjin Industry and Trade, are assisting a police investigation, the city government said.

Accidents are frequent in China's mining industry, which is criticised for poor safety standards.

Official figures show that 1,973 people died in coal mining accidents in the country last year.

China's central government has introduced measures aimed at improving standards but these directives are often ignored at local level.

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