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21 trapped in China iron ore mine

11 july 2011, 11:25
Twenty-one workers are trapped underground after a flood in an iron ore mine in eastern China, in the latest accident to hit the notoriously dangerous industry, AFP reports, citing state media Monday.

Seven people managed to escape when water poured into the pit in Weifang city in Shandong province at around 11 pm (1500 GMT) on Sunday, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement from the local government.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the accident -- the fourth known mining disaster in less than two weeks, the report said.

Work safety officials refused to comment when contacted by AFP, and the city government could not provide any information about the incident -- the latest in a spate that have jolted the country's accident-prone mining industry.

In southern China, two workers were rescued Sunday after being trapped for more than a week deep underground in a mine collapse in the Guangxi region in which eight people died and 12 were still missing, Xinhua said earlier.

China's coal mines have a notoriously poor safety record, which the government has repeatedly pledged to address.

In 2010, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics -- a rate of more than six workers per day.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

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