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23 miners lost after cave-in

HUNDREDS of rescuers are searching for 23 miners who are trapped underground after a coal mine caved in late Wednesday night in northeastern China's Heilongjiang Province, the local coal mine safety supervision authorities said yesterday.

The accident occurred at 11:30pm when 23 miners were working underground at the Xinyongfeng Coal Mine in Jixi City.

Preliminary investigation showed heavy rain caused the cave-in, authorities said.

The cave is about 50 meters long, 60 meters wide and 10 meters deep. Rescuers estimated that 30,000 cubic meters of soil subsided.

The rescuers were digging out the soil last night. Equipment for the rescue operation has been sent to the site.

A miner named Song Xiuzhao left the mine with a stomachache at 10pm, avoiding the possibly fatal accident.

Song said he waited near the mine after he came out because he wanted to leave together with his co-workers. He was near the mine entrance when he heard a great noise and then saw a huge cave appear several hundred meters away.

The rescuers said Jixi received 51.6mm of rainfall on Wednesday.


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