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Death toll rises to 11 from China coal mine flooding
Updated: 2009-04-08 15:38

HARBIN -- The death toll from a flooded coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province has risen to 11 as one more body was recovered, a local official said Wednesday.

But the whereabouts of another miner are still unknown, said Fang Dongchu, deputy secretary-general of the Jixi municipal government.

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"The water has been pumped out of the shaft. Rescuers are clearing away the silt and searching for the missing miner," he said.

"But the hope of survival is slim," he added.

He did not say when the last body was retrieved.

The accident occurred at about 5:30 am Saturday when 22 miners were working underground at the Jinli Coal Mine in the Xingnong Township, Jidong County, Jixi City. Six managed to escape and four others were rescued.

The mine, owned by the Tianyuan Company, has an annual production capacity of 40,000 tonnes.

Work safety officials said the mine was licensed, but it was operating illegally as it had not been authorized by safety inspectors after production halt during the Spring Festival in January.

Water from a neighboring abandoned mine caused the flooding, said Zhang Chengxiang, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Coal Mine Safety Administration.

About 4,000 cubic meters of water poured into the shaft.

The Jixi municipal government has launched safety inspections at all local mines.