China has ordered the suspension of production at all coal mines in the south-western province of Sichuan following a blast at the Taozigou coal mine in Luzhou that left 28 dead and 18 others injured.
The State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement on Sunday that production at all coal mines across the province should be halted with immediate effect for complete overhaul and checks.
Sichuan plans to close operations at 500 small coal mines by the end of 2013.
The gas explosion occurred on 11 May, with a total of 108 miners working underground at the time of the accident.
Initial investigations indicate illegal mining caused the blast, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Following the accident, the authorities have ordered the cancellation of the coal mine's licences and its permanent closure.
Less than 24 hours prior to this incident, an explosion at Dashan coal mine in Pingba County in south-west China's Guizhou Province claimed 12 lives and injured two workers.
China has one of the worst safety records in the mining industry worldwide.
According to the country's State Administration of Work Safety reports, 1,973 and 2,433 people were killed in the country in mining accidents in 2011 and 2010 respectively. In 2012, over 1,300 people were killed in mine accidents in China.
Image: All coal mines in Sichuan will be closed by the end of the year. Photo: dan.