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Number Trapped in Flooded Coal Mine Unknown

A local official said yesterday that the number of miners trapped in a flooded Guangdong colliery since Sunday may be higher than the 102 previously reported.

"After a one-day investigation we still have not found the exact number as many management staff have run away since the accident occurred," said Chen Ganglin, deputy secretary of the Xingning municipal Party committee.

"But we have received more reports of missing miners from their families," said Chen, who was assigned to assist anxious relatives.

Chen added that Zeng Fanjin, the mine owner, and Luo Changxian, its chief technical supervisor, are under investigation.

The local government issued a notice Monday for 65 missing management workers to return to the mine to help enquiries.

More than 600 people have been organized to help the rescue operations. Water levels in the mine have gradually dropped, but rescue workers have found little sign of the miners who had been working underground.

The accident occurred at 1:30 PM on Sunday in the privately-owned Daxing Coal Mine, which the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety said was unlicensed, and only four miners are thought to have escaped.

The chances of survival for those trapped were described by rescue workers yesterday as slim.

The mine is in Huanghuai Town, Xingning City in Meizhou Prefecture of south China's Guangdong Province.

(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2005)

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