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12 miners confirmed dead in China coal mine flooding
Updated: 2009-04-09 13:52

HARBIN -- Twelve miners have been confirmed dead after rescuers retrieved the last body in a flooded coal mine in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, a local official said Thursday.

"The rescue operation has ended," said Fang Dongchu, deputy secretary-general of the Jixi municipal government.

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

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

The company pledged that the compensation to the victims' relatives would not be less than the government-set standard of 200,000 yuan (US$29,411.8) for each victim.

Work safety officials said the mine was licensed, but was operating illegally as it had not been authorized by safety inspectors after production was halted 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.