Indonesia Mine Blast Kills At Least 28, With More Still Trapped

07/18/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The death toll from an explosion at a coal mine believed triggered by a gas leak rose to 31 after rescuers unearthed more bodies Wednesday, officials said.

Rescuers pulled out 14 burned bodies from narrow paths inside the 300-foot (100-meter) -deep mine on Wednesday and were searching for one more miner thought to be buried inside, said local police Chief Yasman Esha.

"From latest verification, we can conclude that only one miner is still inside, but we fear he has already dead," Esha said by phone.

The blast happened Tuesday morning at the mine owned by a local company in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra province, 560 miles (900 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Jakarta.

Sixteen miners were rescued but five later died in a hospital. Six remain hospitalized, officials said.

Rescuers struggling with rock slides and debris to reach the last miner were due to resume their search Thursday.

Police were trying to determine what caused the blast. A preliminary investigation indicated it was triggered by leaking methane gas.

Indonesia has some of the world's largest coal deposits and is a major coal exporter, but safety standards in its mines are poor.