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Mine death toll miscalculated due to 'chaos'
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Rescuers on Tuesday recovered seven bodies from the flooded Nadu Mine in Baise City of Guangxi Zhuang Zhuang Autonomous Region, not six as previously reported, an official said yesterday.

Huang Yi, spokesman for the State Administration of Work Safety, said the chaos of the rescue operation led to the miscount. Teams are continuing to search for 29 men who are still missing, he said.

The operation has reached a critical period, as heavy rain is forecast for the next two days around Baise, where the mine is located, he said.

Rain began to fall on Tuesday night but it has not affected the rescue , an official at the rescue headquarters said yesterday.

Forecasters said Tiandong county would receive up to 30 mm of rain, but it had seen just 1 mm as of yesterday, he said.

A hydrological team has increased its monitoring of underground water levels to within 500 m of the workface, where the missing miners are believed to be trapped, he said.

Huang said the flooding in the mine started at 1:15 pm on Monday, and not 3:15 pm, as reported previously, trapping 57 miners, 21 of whom escaped or were rescued.

Zhao Tiechui, head of the State Administration of Coal Mine Safety is in charge at the rescue headquarters, assisted by Yang Daoxi, vice-chairman of Guangxi.

Zhao said a priority now is preventing secondary disasters such as gas explosions.

Rescuers have been pumping water and mud from the shaft to prevent blockages, and have increased ventilation to it.

Hydrological experts have been trying to determine if the floodwater originated from the Youjiang River, he said.

At the rescue headquarters, 36 teams have been set up to deal with each of families of the trapped and dead miners. They will carry out DNA tests on the victims to confirm their identities, Zhao said.

Also on Tuesday, work safety authorities in Guangxi ordered all coal mines in the region to suspend production and check for signs of flooding.

The mines must be inspected by city or county authorities to ensure they meet safety standards, they said.

Guangxi has about 250 coal mines but aims to reduce that number to 180 before the end of 2010.

Most of the closures will be mines with an annual output of less than 30,000 tons, as larger mines are easier to supervise, authorities said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2008)

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