BEIJING (AFP) - A gas blast in a southwest China coal mine left 17 people dead Wednesday, state press said of the latest accident in the dangerous industry. The explosion occurred at the Shangchang Coal Mine in Yunnan province Wednesday afternoon when 66 miners were in the shaft, Xinhua news agency said. Forty-nine miners were able to safely escape the mine with their lives, while the other 17 were pronounced dead, the report said. An investigation into the incident is ongoing. China is the world’s biggest consumer of coal, relying on the fossil fuel for about 70pc of its growing energy needs.