16 dead, 5 trapped in flooded northern China coal mine

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese officials raised the death toll of a mine flood in northern China to 16, with five still trapped, state media reported late Tuesday.

More than 600 rescue workers were pumping water and drilling holes from the surface in hopes of reaching those still inside the Jiangjiawan mine near the city of Datong, the reports said.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 6,100 cubic meters (about 1.6 million gallons) of water had already been pumped out as of Tuesday afternoon.

A total of 247 miners were underground when water rushed into the shaft Sunday evening. Of those, 223 people made it safely to the surface. Such accidents are usually caused by breaches of abandoned shafts where water has collected over time.

China’s notoriously dangerous mines have seen a declining number of deaths in recent years because of safety improvements and a falling demand for coal as the country’s once-sizzling economy cools off.

Datong Coal Mine Group owns the mine, which has an annual capacity of 900,000 tons.

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