The death toll in a gas explosion that occurred Wednesday afternoon in a coal mine in southwest China's Sichuan province has climbed to 37.
A total of 107 miners have been rescued, the local rescue headquarters said.
A total of 154 miners were working underground at the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in the city of Panzhihua when the blast occurred around 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The injured have been taken to local hospitals, the headquarters said.
Professional rescue teams from other coal mines in Sichuan have been sent to the accident site.
The coal mine is owned by Zhengjin Industry and Trade Co., Ltd.
The owner of the mine is being questioned by police.
Rescuers race to save trapped miners
More than 300 rescuers have been dispatched to the Xiaojiawan Coal Mine in the city of Panzhihua to retrieve the trapped workers.
Rescuers were lowered into the mine to search for the trapped miners while paramedics waited aboveground.
Li Hua, a rescuer with Panzhihua Coal Mine Group, said he entered the pit three times early Thursday morning and successfully pulled two miners out of the mine alive.
However, rescue efforts at the mine were hampered by narrow underground spaces, cave-ins and high temperatures in the gas-filled pit, according to the rescue headquarters and rescuers.
Temperatures reached 80 to 90 degrees centigrade and carbon monoxide was dense in the zone where the miners were trapped. Only some paramedics wearing masks were able to enter the shaft, authorities said.
"The shaft of the mine has been severely destroyed, making our rescue work very hard," Li, the rescuer, said.
Rescuers had pulled six miners alive out of the mine as of 6 a.m. Thursday.
Yang Dongliang, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, arrived at the mine early Thursday morning to join provincial governor Jiang Jufeng in directing rescue operations.
Finding and rescuing those miners trapped underground has remained a pressing task, according to the rescue headquarters.