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Missing miners in SW China pronounced dead
Updated: 2009-02-20 19:07

GUIYANG -- All 13 miners who were trapped underground after a coal mine flooded in late December in southwest China's Guizhou Province were formally pronounced dead Friday.

The flood occurred on December 31 at the Baiyanglin mine, which was illegally operating in Xixiu District of Anshun City, when 20 people were working in the pit. Seven escaped but 13 others were trapped.

Rescuers had recovered five bodies from the shaft by January 12. Although rescue work continued, there was no word about the fate of the missing.

"After more than a month's efforts, the rescue work has stopped. All of the 13 miners are dead," a Xixiu district government spokesman told a news  conference Friday.

He did not reveal whether the eight missing bodies were found.

Local authorities were still investigating the accident, he said.

Preliminary investigations found the mine, with a capacity of 30,000 tonnes a year, was under renovation. It had no work safety certificate and the production permit had expired.

In September and December 2008, local authorities ordered the mine to stop production, but it continued operating.