Two coal mine accidents in northeastern China have claimed the lives of 36 people, the latest in a string of similar incidents that have recently gripped the Asian nation. The accidents occurred in Liaoning and Heilongjiang province, the Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday.

A fire in a pit caused by sparks off welders in Liaoning’s Huludao city led to the deaths of 17 miners, the State Administration of Work Safety wrote on its website, according to the AP. Ten other miners injured were treated at a local hospital, the administration said.

In another fire at a mine in Hegang city of Heilongjiang province, rescue teams were reportedly searching for 19 miners trapped underground since Wednesday. According to state broadcaster CCTV, rescuers have given up hope of finding the miners alive.

The two accidents were latest in a series of tragedies at Chinese mines that have long been the world's deadliest. In November, 21 people were killed following a fire at a mine in Heilongjiang. In April, eight miners died and 13 were trapped in northern Shanxi province.

However, in recent years, coal mine fatalities have dropped in China mainly due to increased safety and lower demand for coal. Last year, the number of deaths due to coal mine accidents fell to 931 compared to 7,000 in 2002, the State Administration of Work Safety reportedly said.