Rescue effort continues after deadly China mine blast

Rescuers work at an explosion site at Jinshangou mine (Reuters)
Rescuers work at an explosion site at Jinshangou mine (Reuters)

A gas explosion at a coal mine in southwestern China has left 13 people dead, with 20 more miners still missing.

The blast at Jinshangou mine in Chongqing happened just before 12pm on Monday (local time), and more than a dozen bodies have since been found.

Only two people have escaped alive so far.

"We are still working all-out to search for the 20 missing miners, and will exert our utmost as long as there's still a ray of hope," Chonqing's deputy mayor told Xinhua news agency.

More than 400 people are involved in the rescue effort, but they've met a literal dead-end, with debris from the explosion blocking access to a number of the mine's passages.

The blast is believed to have been caused by a lack of fully functioning ventilation systems, which are designed to stop the extremely flammable gas from the coal seam becoming trapped.

China's State Administration of Work Safety says "those responsible must be strictly punished", and there will be an investigation into the explosion.

China's mines are among the most dangerous in the world.