A gas explosion at a coal mine in central China killed 12 people and left 32 missing, Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, even as rescuers worked to save 153 workers at a different mine in Shanxi province.
Coal mine accidents are common in China, the world's largest producer, but the large number of people involved in the two accidents this week has raised further questions about safety standards.
Rescuers have pumped water all day at the Wangjialing mine in Shanxi province, which flooded on Sunday when construction workers breached a wall to a nearby disused pit. Nothing has been heard from the 153 workers inside.
Wednesday's gas explosion in Henan province destroyed the entrance of a mine owned by private Guomin Mining Co in Yichuan county, near the city of Luoyang.
Eight miners and four people on the surface were killed, while 50 miners escaped. About 32 were trapped in the mine, but the explosion caused a two-storey building to cave in, leaving the exact number killed unknown.
China has ordered the consolidation or takeover of many private mines in order to better regulate them, improve the safety record and prevent the simultaneous mining of a single seam by numerous, uncoordinated outfits.
It credits the shutdown of many of the most dangerous private mines with helping reduce the death toll in the coal industry to about 2,600 last year from over 3,000 the year before.
Still, the deadliest accidents aren't limited to private firms. The Wangjialing mine was a high-profile project belonging to a joint venture between China National Coal Group and Shanxi Coking Coal Group, two of China's larger state-owned firms.
Earlier in March, flooding killed 31 miners in Inner Mongolia, in a mine under construction for China's largest coal producer, state-owned Shenhua Group.
Gas explosion at Chinese coal mine kills 12, traps 32
Rescuers worked to save 153 workers at a different mine in Shanxi province.