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Colliery Flooding Prompts Mass Mine Shutdown
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Northeast China's Liaoning Province has ordered an immediate shutdown of all its coal mines for a safety overhaul following Saturday's flooding that killed at least 22 miners.

The provincial coal industry administration said all mining activities would be banned during the shutdown, which started on Sunday night and is expected to last until the end of the week.

The ban applied to more than 900 private coal mines in the province and all the pits of the four large state-owned mining companies, the administration said in a circular.

A pit of the state-owned Fushun Mining Group was flooded on Saturday night, leaving 22 miners dead and seven missing.

Rescuers were still searching for the seven missing on Tuesday, while the group is compensating each victim's family a minimum of 200,000 yuan (US$25,640), said Wang Liancheng, a manager of the ill-fated Laohutai Mine.

Laohutai, whose name translates into "tiger's platform", is located in the industrial city of Fushun, east of the provincial capital Shenyang. It is a 100-year-old mine with 160 million tons of remaining coal reserves. It employs 7,200 people and produces 3.35 million tons a year.

The State Administration of Work Safety said a lack of preventative measures and carelessness were to blame for the accident, and called for a thorough investigation of major state-owned collieries to locate hidden safety risks and prevent fatal accidents.

Liaoning Province produced 66 million tons of coal last year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2007)

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