Hope dies for 102 miners trapped after explosion on Chinese coal mine

Hopes faded on Monday for 102 Chinese coal miners trapped by flood waters as state media reported an explosion at a second pit which killed 14 people.

Flood waters were rising in the mineshaft in Xingning in the southern province of Guangdong which was inundated on Sunday.

"There are 15 million to 20 million cubic metres of water under the mine and the water level is still rising 50 cm (20 in) an hour," the Xinhua news agency quoted a vice mayor of nearby Meizhou as saying.

"Chances of the trapped workers surviving are relatively small," he said.

China relies on coal for over two-thirds of its energy needs but accidents in the mining industry - the world's most dangerous - claimed 2,700 lives in the first half of 2005 alone.

What triggered the flooding was unknown, Xinhua said. The China News Service said adjoining mines had been ordered to suspend production and evacuate workers, reports Reuters.

According to the AP, The explosion occurred at about 3 a.m. in the Wanzi Coal Mine in Liupanshui, a city in Guizhou province, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing local safety officials.

It said 23 miners escaped from the mine after the blast.

The cause of the explosion was under investigation, the report said. It said the mine lacked a safety certification but had other required licenses.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with thousands of deaths reported each year in fires, floods and other disasters, despite repeated government promises to tighten enforcement of safety standards.

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