In the latest disaster to hit the industry, a fire broke out on Monday at a coal mine in Xiangtan County in Hunan province, trapping 21 workers. 

Three were saved, five were confirmed dead and 13 remained missing as of Tuesday afternoon, officials at the mine said. 

"Several dozen rescuers have gone down into the mine to look for survivors," said Chen Qiguo, propaganda department chief in Xiangtan County. 

He said the fire had been extinguished and rescue teams had succeeded in restoring the power supply to the mine. Earlier, they had been unable to use the mine elevator because of the lack of electricity. 

Rescue efforts continue

Meanwhile, rescue efforts were continuing at Xujiaba Tianchi mine in Sinan county in southwestern China's Guizhou province, as hopes dimmed of saving any of the 36 miners missing since Sunday. 

Women mourning the death of
loved ones in a previous blast

"We are still pumping water. We need more pumps. We are hoping to get more pumps from other counties. No one has been found yet," said an official involved in the rescue work. 

Water gushed into the shaft on Sunday when 80 miners were in the mine. Forty-four got out safely. 

The disaster apparently happened when workers manning the mine's drills hit an underground reservoir, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. 

China's mining industry has been blighted by a spate of disasters in recent weeks, including the death of 166 people in Shaanxi province and 148 miners in Henan province, both from gas explosions. 

A lack of awareness and investment in safety procedures at mines have been seen as key elements in the series of accidents.