Beijing, China -

The death toll from a gas explosion at a coal mine in south-west China has risen to 37, with another 10 people still trapped, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

A total of 154 miners were working underground at the Xiaojiawan mine in the city of Panzhihua in Sichuan province when the blast occurred on Wednesday afternoon.

Efforts to rescue the miners have been made difficult by high temperatures and the presence of poisonous carbon monoxide in the mine, Xinhua said in an earlier report.

The individual responsible for the mine has been detained, the city government said on its website on Thursday.

China's mines are known for being among the world's deadliest, due to lax regulation, corruption and inefficiency, and accidents are common as safety is often neglected by bosses seeking quick profits.

The latest official figures show 1 973 people died in coal mining accidents in China in 2011, a 19 percent fall on the previous year.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely to be much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

China is the world's leading consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for 70 percent of its growing energy needs. - Sapa-AFP