A gas explosion at the Xiangshui coal mine in the Guizhou province of south-west China has killed 23 workers.

Eighteen workers were confirmed dead after the incident on Saturday, but rescuers said today that they have recovered the bodies of four missing miners.

Five other miners were injured.

Following the tragedy, four managers from the mine’s operator Pannan Coal Exploitation were dismissed, reports the China Daily.

Despite prior coal gas explosions in the mine’s past, the company had demonstrated a lack of initiative to prevent risk to employees.

According to local authorities, Pannan is required to compensate every miner killed in the accident with 1.04 million yuan ($166,000), the highest set for work-related deaths.

Located in Panxian County on top of a 1.3 billion ton coal deposit, the underground mine had been in operation since 2006 and generated 4 million metric tons of coal every year.

Coal from the mine reaches the nearby Pannan power station, which in turn transmits power from western China to the eastern industrial belts as part of a government strategy.

According to state administration of coal mine safety statistics, 1,146 people were killed in 650 mining accidents in China in 2012.

Illegal mines were responsible for the deaths of nearly 46.5% of these miners.

The cabinet has now ordered stricter measures to monitor coal mine safety and authorities intend to close 625 small mines this year.