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Gas explosion at western China coal mine traps 22 workers

A gas explosion on Friday trapped 22 workers underground in a coal mine in western China.

The blast at a coal mine in Changji prefecture occurred at 1:26 a.m. local time Friday when 34 miners were working, the prefecture's government news office.

Twelve miners were able to scramble to safety but 22 others remained trapped, the news office of the prefecture in Xinjiang region said on its official microblog.

China News Service reported that rescuers were searching for the trapped miners and that it was unclear whether there were injuries or fatalities among them.

Such accidents are usually caused by a failure to ventilate methane gas from the shaft. China's mines, which are the deadliest in the world, suffer frequent explosions, floods and cave-ins.

Safety improvements have reduced the number deaths in recent years, but regulations are still often ignored.