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Coal Mine Disaster Kills 1, Traps at Least 5 Victims
Rescue efforts continue in a desperate bid to find miners trapped in a flooded shaft in a northeastern coal mine.

A rescue official with the local government of Tianshifu Town of Benxi in Northeast China's Liaoning Province - where the accident occurred on Friday - said Monday afternoon at least five coal miners were stranded underground, with no information of whether they were still alive.

Another six miners were rescued over the weekend. However, one later died at a local hospital, said the official, who declined to be named.

The water seepage accident happened at Zhouyuxiang Coal Mine on Friday morning, in which at least 11 coal workers were trapped underground.

The local government immediately combined forces with local coal authorities to set up an emergency rescue team.

The team continuously pumped water from the mine shaft, said local officials Monday.

Benxi coal authorities would not comment on the incident Monday.

Cai Xiang, an official with the law affairs department under the coal bureau of Benxi, said authorities' attention and efforts had been concentrated on the ongoing rescue work only.

The bureau's chief Liu Chuyu, who attended the scene of the accident Monday afternoon, was not available for comment.

In a separate coal mining incident, more than a dozen local officials and coal mine owners in Nandan, in Southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, were sentenced to prison between 5 years to 13 years by local courts last week.

Last July, more than 80 coal miners died after being trapped in flooded mine shafts in Nandan on July 7, 2001, but the local government lied to the whole nation to cover up the case.

Apart from trying to seal the mouths of victims' families, they also arranged guards to obstruct reporters from revealing the case, which finally failed.

(China Daily March 19, 2002)

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