The number of miners trapped in a flooded mining pit since May 18 in north China's Shanxi Province has been verified as 56, one less than former calculation, official sources said Saturday.
The result of repeated checking shows there were 266 miners working underground, and 210 miners managed to escape when water flooded the mine.
Rescue officials have admitted that the chances of finding the 56 men alive are very slim.
According to a former counting of the trapped miners, a man named He Jiang had been counted. However, he is verified by police to have left the mine before the accident. He has been found in Hebei Province in north China.
Family members of the 56 trapped miners have arrived at the site to help identify the miners.
An investigation panel authorized by China's State Council was set up Saturday. The panel is composed of senior officials including State Administration of Work Safety Director Li Yizhong, Shanxi Governor Yu Youjun, State Administration of Coal Mine Safety Director Zhao Tiechui, and officials from the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Land Resources and All-China Federation of Trade Unions.
Li Yizhong has lashed out at over-production, a major cause for the accident. The mine had a license to produce 90,000 tons a year, but it produced 130,000 tons from March 2 to May 18.
(Xinhua News Agency May 27, 2006)