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33 miners rescued in flooded China coal mine

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rescue workers safely pulled out 33 miners trapped in a flooded mine in central China Tuesday, but another one was found dead, a state news agency said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the miners were lifted out of the flooded shaft around dawn Tuesday after a 23-hour ordeal. It was the third mine accident in as many weeks to hit the resource-rich central Henan province.

There were 42 people working underground when the mine shaft flooded shortly Monday at the Gaomendong Coal Mine in Jiaxian County, Pingdingshan City. Initial reports said nine had escaped safely, with 33 men still trapped. It turned out that only eight had escaped, accounting for the additional death.

The mine had been working in unapproved area, and the number of the workers in the pit surpassed the safety capacity, Li Hanwei, vice chief of the rescue headquarters, told Xinhua Monday evening.

"The mine allows a maximum of 28 minors according to its safety operating procedure. But there were 42 people underground when the accident happened," he said.

The mine owner has been detained by police. Xinhua said the Gaomendong mine was a legal colliery that produces 60,000 tons of coal a year.

The accident was the third in Henan in less than three weeks, Xinhua said. In the other two accidents, five miners were confirmed dead while at least 19 others remained missing.

China's mines are the world's most dangerous with more than 3,700 deaths a year in explosions, fires and floods. Many accidents are blamed on small mines with low safety standards, or those operating illegally.