BEIJING, China - The latest in a series of tragic accidents inside a coal mine in China on Saturday, reignited the debate over poor safety conditions inside the country's mines.
China, which is the world's largest producer of coal, has been subject to sharp criticism over the increasing number of coal mine accidents in the country, that has led to the death of several workers over the years.
On Saturday, seven workers were killed and three others were injured after an underground transport accident at a coal mine in China's southwestern city of Chongqing.
According to China's state-owned Xinhua news agency, the accident occurred at the Fengchun coal mine under the Chongqing Energy Group in the Chongqing municipality.
It noted that the accident took place when the connecting segment of a mining skip broke, which led it to slide down the inclined shaft.
The state news agency said that all the seven miners killed were working in the shaft.
Officials said that three miners suffered injuries in the accidents and were immediately rushed to a hospital nearby.
Following the accident, the Chongqing Energy Group suspended operations at all of its coal mines.
'Deadliest in the world'
China's mining industry has earned the status of being one the deadliest in the world.
Saturday's accident took place merely months after eight miners were killed at a coal mine in Yuncheng county of Shangdong province.
In the accident in October, pressure inside the Yuncheng coal mine caused rocks to rip apart and break, killing workers inside.
The accident triggered authorities to order security checks at 41 coal mines in the Shandong province, with all the 41 mines instructed to halt production until the inspections are completed.
However, while the number of deaths from mining accidents have reduced in China in recent years, the number of accidents have continued to rise.
The country continues to witness mining accidents at a frequent pace, even though authorities have made efforts to improve coal production conditions and crackdown on illegal mines.
In June this year, 11 workers were killed and nine others were injured in a powerful explosion at an iron mine in China's northeast Liaoning province.
Before that, in May, a methane gas explosion inside a coal mine in the country's central Hunan province killed at least five workers.
In a bid to improve safety conditions, China's coal mine safety watchdog launched inspections of mines across the country - which began following October's accident and is set to continue until June.
Figures revealed by China's national coal mine safety administration show that the country witnessed 375 coal mining-related deaths in 2017.
The number was said to have dropped 28.7 percent year-on-year.
However, earlier this year, the bureau said in a statement that despite improvements, "the situation of coal mine safety production is still grim."