A fire at a coal mine in China’s Xiangtan County in Hunan province on Tuesday this week led to the death of 25 miners and has left three trapped.

Nearly 43 workers managed to escape from the accident, which happened when underground cables caught fire, according to news agency Xinhua.

It is the largest incident in China since a gas blast in a coal pit killed at least 104 miners last year.

Officials at the mine have lost their jobs as a result of the incident while another resigned as it was revealed officials failed to remove health and safety hazards at the mine.

Chinese State Administration of Coal Mine Safety deputy head Wang Shuhe was quoted by Xinhua saying rescue efforts were difficult because much toxic gas was in the shaft following the fire.

The privately run Chinese coal mine with 180 employees was ramping up production to 60,000t per annum.

China’s coal mining industry is considered one of the most dangerous in the world with over 3,000 deaths caused by mine blasts, floods, collapses and other mishaps in 2008.