updated 9/7/2008 1:13:16 AM ET 2008-09-07T05:13:16

Twenty-three people were trapped in a flooded coal mine in central China, authorities said Sunday.

The flood swamped the mine in Yuzhou city of Henan province early Sunday morning, the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said in a statement on its Web site.

The official Xinhua News Agency said more than 50 miners were working in the shaft.

The report cited local authorities as saying that many of the workers managed to escape, while a rescue operation was under way to save the trapped workers at the Fushun coal mine.

Xinhua said the mine is owned by the Hebi Coal Industry (Group) Co. Ltd. based in Hebi, a city in Henan.

Phone calls to the mine owner and the Yuzhou city coal mine safety bureau rang unanswered Sunday.

China's mines are the world's deadliest, with explosions, cave-ins and floods killing nearly 3,800 people last year.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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