Rescuers try to reach stranded miners

Rescuers were scrambling today to save 153 workers trapped after a flood swept through a coal mine in northern China, the country’s work safety agency said.

Rescuers were scrambling today to save 153 workers trapped after a flood swept through a coal mine in northern China, the country’s work safety agency said.

Authorities said that 123 workers were missing after the Wangjialing Coal Mine in Shanxi province flooded yesterday afternoon.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the number jumped to 153 overnight.

The State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement on its website early today that 261 workers were in the mine when it flooded and 108 were lifted to safety.

Provincial work safety official were at the site and directing rescue efforts, it said.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that President Hu Jintao ordered local authorities to “spare no effort” in saving the trapped workers.

Although China’s mine safety record improved in recent years, the mining industry there is still the deadliest in the world, with blasts and other accidents common.

The worst accidents in recent years include a coal mine flood in eastern China’s Shandong province in August 2007 that left 172 miners dead and a mine blast in Liaoning, China’s far northeast, in February 2005 that killed 214 miners.

China closed or absorbed hundreds of smaller, private mines into state-owned operations, which are considered generally safer. But some of the deadliest accidents this year continue to be at state-run mines.

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