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32 miners rescued from flooded Henan coal mine
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Rescuers pulled 32 of the 34 trapped miners out of a flooded coal mine alive in central China's Henan Province early Tuesday morning, almost 23 hours after the accident occurred. One died and another was still missing.

Rescuers are busy saving trapped miners  in a flooded coal mine in central China's Henan Province early Tuesday morning. [Xinhua]

The number of the rescued miners was wrongly reported as 33 previously, Dong Yuxi, a spokesman with the publicity department of Pingdingshan city government. "Rescuers were still searching for the one missing."

The rescued miners, all in poor health condition, were immediately rushed to a local hospital.

The 32 trapped workers were successfully lifted out of the flooded shaft after 6:03 a.m.. One was found dead.

Wang Dexue, deputy head of the State Administration of Work Safety, told Xinhua the Gaomendong Coal Mine in Jiaxian County was operating illegally, when the accident happened. The mine owner, Lou Gaofeng, has been detained.

"Although the mine's production license is valid until November 2009, the mine was undergoing a technical innovation for expansion, which has yet to be approved for resuming production," said Wang.

The safety production agency also found the mine owner Lou did not report the accident until two hours later.

Wang said Lou also failed to report that miners had found water seeping into the mine before the accident.

The flood happened at about 7:20 a.m. Monday when 42 people were working underground. Eight managed to escape.

Li Hanwei, vice chief of the rescue headquarters, attributed the accident to mining against operation procedures and loose supervision on production.

"The mine allows a maximum of 28 miners. But 42 people were working underground when the accident happened," Li said.

More than 800 people took part in the rescue operations.

The Gaomendong Coal Mine is a legal colliery with an annual production of 60,000 tons. It was undergoing a technical innovation and expected to produce 90,000 tons after the reform.

Jiaxian, about 200 km southwest of the provincial capital Zhengzhou, is rich in mineral resources with an estimated coal reserve of about 2 billion tons, according to the county government website (www.jiaxian.gov.cn).

There are more than 20 coal mines around the Gaomendong Coal Mine.

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