Rescuers in China were trying to reach 19 miners trapped inside a collapsed coal mine in the country’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The rescue team which dug 300 deep metres into the main shaft of collapsed coal mine found high levels of explosive gas and siltage that hindered rescue efforts and made it difficult for the rescuers to reach the trapped miners, who were located at 390 metres underground, Zheng Zhao’an, head of the emergency rescue headquarters in the suburbs of Heshan City said.

Zheng said rescuers were digging a second rescue channel in an adjacent shaft, hoping to provide a backup route for the rescue, Xinhua reported.

The cave-in which happened yesterday was caused by continuous downpour, investigators said.

Heavy rain forced mine authorities to halt production for three days from June 29 to July 1.

Operation was resumed yesterday. Altogether 71 miners were working in the pit when the accident happened, 49 managed to escape, while three were killed.

Meanwhile, Work Safety Commission of the central cabinet ordered local government departments to severely crack down on illegal production and construction at mines and other work sites to prevent deadly accidents.

The order followed in the wake of six deadly accidents that left at least 26 people dead in the provinces of Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hunan, Liaoning, Anhui and Shandong.

Local government departments should launch special campaign to check mines, construction sites and other work places and punish those who violate work safety laws and regulations that may lead to accidents, according to a statement posted on the website of the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS) .

The administration urged coal mines across the country to strengthen their anti-flooding measures, particularly during the current flood season.

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