BEIJING (AP) — At least nine people have been killed and nine others trapped in mining and tunnel building accidents in China, state media reported Thursday.

Nine miners were killed in a gas explosion deep inside a shaft on Wednesday afternoon in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Eight others were rescued and taken to a hospital.

Separately, Xinhua said nine workers were trapped when a railway tunnel they were working on collapsed Thursday morning in the southwestern province of Yunnan near the border with Laos.

China's mines were long the world's deadliest, although steady improvements in regulations, safety training and equipment have reduced the toll. China is the world's biggest producer and consumer of coal and the buildup of unventilated methane gas inside mine shafts is the usual cause of explosions.

Accidents on construction sites remain common, sometimes caused by the cutting of corners in a rush to meet completion deadlines.

Overall industrial accidents declined almost 25 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to the same period in 2016, according to the State Administration of Work Safety. The number of people killed fell by almost 17 percent to 19,783, the administration said on its website.

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