Rescuers on Tuesday recovered the bodies of the last of the 37 coal miners trapped by a gas leak at a Chinese mine over the weekend.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported that rescuers had found the remaining five bodies trapped underground after a deadly gas leak Saturday at a mine owned by the Pingyu Coal & Electric Co. Ltd in Yuzhou city in central Henan province.
The State Administration of Work Safety said on its website that the bodies were found at 7:35 a.m. after 300 rescuers dug through 2,500 metric tons (about 2,756 U.S. tons) of coal dust at the mine.
China's mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in coal mine accidents in 2009 alone. The country's lax safety rules and enormous demand for coal to power its economy have contributed to high casualties.
An initial investigation had found that 6 million cubic feet (173,500 cubic meters) of deadly gas leaked out Saturday. Nearly 300 miners were working in the pit at the time, but more than 200 miners were able to escape.
The gas wasn't specified, but methane is a common cause of mine blasts. In this incident, there was no explosion but mine safety officials said they were afraid the missing men may have suffocated and been buried by coal dust.
Another gas leak in 2008 at the same mine killed 23 people.
The Saturday accident occurred after Chile's dramatic rescue last week of 33 miners trapped for more than two months underground. Chinese media had very detailed coverage on the Chilean rescue, but information has been very limited on the Chinese mining accident.
Mining deaths have decreased in recent years as China closed many illegal mines or absorbed them into state-owned companies, although deaths jumped in the first half of this year.