Beijing: Eleven miners were killed and two others injured after a gas explosion ripped through a coal mine in northwest China on Sunday, local officials said.

 Altogether 21 miners were working underground when the blast happened around noon at the Tianyu Coal Mine in rural Tongchuan in coal-rich Shaanxi province.

Ten miners were lifted above ground safely after the blast, and two of them suffered minor injuries, a government spokesman said.

The bodies of the 11 miners killed in the blast had been retrieved, he said.

The coal mine reports an annual output capacity of 150,000 tonnes.

Local authorities are investigating the cause of the blast, the spokesman said.
China's coal mines are considered the most dangerous in the world, although the industry's safety record has improved in recent years after the government intervened to shut down small and illegal mines. The annual death toll in Chinese coal mines are now about one-third of nearly 7,000 in 2002.