Miners rescued from flooded illegal Chinese pit

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Media captionOfficials say one miner died in the accident, and three others are still missing

Nineteen coal miners have been rescued after being trapped underground for a week in north-eastern China, officials have said.

The miners became trapped in the mine in Heilongjiang province after drilling into a flooded shaft by accident.

One miner died in the incident and three others are still missing. Three were rescued on Saturday.

Xinhua reports that the mine, near the city of Qitaihe, had been ordered to close in 2007 but re-opened illegally.

Hopes that the miners were still alive were revived on Sunday when noises were detected through a 920-ft (280m) pipe that was drilled to allow fresh air into the mine.

Television images on the state broadcaster showed the men being brought slowly to the surface, all apparently in good health.

The footage showed cheers from rescuers as the men appeared, bandages over their eyes to protect them from the light.

China's mining industry is the most dangerous in the world, with more than 2,600 miners killed in accidents in 2009 alone.

In April 2010, 115 miners were pulled from a flooded mine in the northern province of Shanxi after more than a week underground. In October, a blast at a pit in Yuzhou, in the central Henan province, killed 26 miners and left another 11 trapped underground.

Last year, the government shut down more than 1,000 illegal pits as part of efforts to improve safety standards.

China is heavily reliant on its mining industry, with coal supplying some 70% of its energy needs. Many of those employed in mines are migrant workers with limited training.

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