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Trapped minerstotal rises to 16

THE number of workers known to have been trapped by a coal mine flood earlier this week in southwest China's Guizhou Province was raised to 16 yesterday after it emerged that one miner failed to sign the attendance book before entering the shaft, a senior work safety official said.

Wang Shuhe, vice director with the State Coal Mining Safety Supervision Administration, said the mine owner had at first claimed seven workers were underground, before the number grew to 10, 15 and now to 16.

"The exact number is under investigation," he said.

He also told reporters at the site of the accident in Qinglong County that the flood occurred at 8am on Wednesday, instead of 3:30pm as earlier reported by the county government. The mine owner delayed rescue by 21 hours.

Wang Lin, head of Qinglong County, where the accident took place, said yesterday that his office got the time from the county's public security bureau, which had questioned witnesses.

Wang Shuhe said the cause of the time difference would be strictly investigated.

Rescuers were still trying to find the miners, despite difficulties in pumping water out of the substandard mine. They have maintained power and ventilation to the shaft in the hope that the trapped workers could survive until they were rescued.

Meanwhile, six people were killed and two injured after a gas blast ripped through a colliery in Guizhou Province yesterday, according to the local work safety regulator.

The gas explosion struck Tianwan Coal Mine at 11:20am when eight miners were underground. Six were pronounced dead at the scene.


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