Sixty-nine miners were trapped in a flooded Chinese coal pit operating above its design capacity, state media reported on Monday.
Rescuers had pumped out water and drilled holes to provide oxygen to the miners who were swamped after a flash flood caused by heavy rain raced through an old shaft about 200 km (125 miles) west of Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province.
The miners have been trapped since Sunday morning. Thirty-three people had managed to escape the state-owned mine, operated by Zhijian Mining Co. Ltd., Xinhua news agency said.
"The rescue operation is going on in an orderly way and the most important task is to try every effort to pump water for the time being," it said, quoting a rescue official.
Xu Guangchun, Henan's provincial Communist Party boss who rushed to the scene with Li Yizhong, head of China's top work safety watchdog, was able to talk to some trapped workers by telephone on Sunday night, Xinhua said.
It was still raining on Monday morning, hampering rescue efforts, Xinhua said.
China's coal industry is the world's deadliest, killing an average of 13 people a day last year. Most of the deaths occur in small private unregulated mines, but large state-run collieries report much higher death tolls when accidents hit.
The Zhijian mine, which was founded in 1958 during the Great Leap Forward, had a designed annual production capacity of 210,000 tonnes, but actually produced 300,000 tonnes each year, Xinhua said.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Temmuz 2007, 11:07