BEIJING – At least 59 people have been killed in two separate Chinese coal mine blasts, here on Saturday.

According to Chinese state media, an explosion at a colliery in the northern Inner Mongolia region left 32 dead.

A total of 181 people were working underground when the gas explosion struck the mine in the city of Chifeng, with 149 managing to escape.

In a separate incident, a blast occurred late Tuesday at a private mine in Qitaihe City, in northeast Heilongjiang province, trapping 22 workers.

Twenty-one were confirmed dead Friday night according to provincial authorities.

Rescue efforts were hampered by debris from the blast in some of the tunnels, according to an earlier report.

China is the world´s largest coal producer and deadly accidents are common mainly due to large scale digging operations underway throughout the country.