Seven dead, 16 missing in China coal mine accident

Seven people have died and 16 others are missing following an accident at a coal mine in southwest China, state media reported Tuesday.

Twenty eight people were working at the Yanshitai coal mine in Chongqing when a "gas incident" occurred in the afternoon, China's official news agency Xinhua said.

Five of the miners managed to escape, Xinhua said.

Mining accidents are common in China, the world's largest consumer of coal, where mine operators often skirt safety regulations.

Twenty people died in April when a coalmine in China's southwest Yunnan province suddenly flooded, leaving miners trapped.

Last year, China recorded 589 mining-related accidents, leaving 1,049 people dead or missing, according to the government. But both the number of accidents and fatalities were down more than 24 percent from 2012.

Authorities have sought to shut down small mines, a major source of accidents, in an effort to consolidate the industry.

In December last year, an explosion killed 21 workers at a coal mine in China's western Xinjiang region, one of a series of such accidents in recent years.