A gas explosion, which occured at a mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang province, killed at least 46 workers and trapped 66 more Saturday, officials said.
Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang rushed to the scene as 156 rescue workers gathered at the Xinxing Coal Mine, about 250 miles east of the provincial capital of Harbin, where they were occupied working on repairing the mine's damaged ventilation system, the state-run Chinese news service Xinhua reported.
Forty-eight miners were also injured in the Saturday morning blast, one of whom is in critical condition. The injured are reportedly suffering from burns, fractures and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The destroyed ventilation system, as well as a damaged communication infrastructure, were hampering efforts to reach the miners, who are trapped 1,650 feet underground, China News Agency reported.
Xinhua said the mining company confirmed that 528 workers were in the mine when the explosion occurred at 2:30 a.m., with 415 escaping the accident, according to the Associated Press' report.