A total of 22 workers were trapped early Friday following an explosion in a coal mine in the northwestern Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang, the official news agency Xinhua said.

The explosion occurred at 1:26 a.m. in the Baiyanggou coal mine in Hutubi County, inhabited mainly by the Muslim Hui ethnicity.

At the time of the accident, 34 miners were working down a mineshaft, though 12 of them managed to escape after the explosion, local authorities said.

Firefighters and emergency management crews working at the scene of the accident are trying to save those trapped in the mine.

Chinese coal mines have more accidents than any in the world, and every year take the lives of some 3,000 workers, due to such factors as a lack of safety measures and the overworking of mines, in a country where coal continues to be the principal source of energy. EFE