A gas accident in a coal mine in China's south-western municipality of Chongqing has killed 22 workers, and left two others injured.
The incident occurred at the Chongqing's Yanshitai coal mine on Tuesday evening at around 3:40pm local time, according to initial reports from Chongqing Municipal Administration of Coal Mine Safety.
A total of 28 workers were working down the shaft at the time of the accident; six managed to escape, reported state news agency Xinhua.
Rescue workers have retrieved the bodies of those killed.
The cause of the accident is still unknown and reports have not revealed whether a gas leak or an explosion occurred.
The coal mine is operated by the state-owned Nantong Mining, one of the major coal producers in the city.
This incident is the latest in a series of mining disasters in China, and throws light on the poor safety standards of the country which is considered to be the biggest coal-producing nation in the world.
On 25 May, a gas explosion at Yushe coal mine in Shuicheng County, Guizhou Province killed five miners, of which four are still missing.
Last month, the Chinese Government announced plans to close more than 2,000 small-scale coal mines by 2015, to improve safety and address pollution issues.
Coal mines reported to be among the primary targets include Liaoning, Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, along with Chongqing municipality.
Image: The Chinese Government is planning to close more than 2,000 small-scale coal mines by 2015. Photo: courtesy of John Nyberg.