Workers trapped in three mines
A coal mine fire has trapped 28 workers underground in eastern China as rescuers elsewhere tried to reach 42 miners not seen since heavy rains flooded two other mines over the weekend.
The ongoing accidents in different regions highlight the continuing risks of China's mining industry, one of the world's most dangerous despite the government's efforts to improve its safety record.
The State Administration of Work Safety said an air compressor 700 feet underground caught fire in Shandong province on Wednesday evening, trapping 36 miners working in the area, according to an initial investigation.
The department said that 28 people were still trapped. It did not say if the other eight were rescued or escaped themselves.
State-run CCTV television showed rescue workers putting large bags of mud and earth on a cart that would be used to block the fire, which was still burning underground.
Hundreds of miles away in southern China, rescuers were still working to reach 42 miners who were trapped on Saturday in two accidents triggered by heavy rain.
Water flooded a mine that was under construction in Guizhou province, trapping 23 workers deep underground. Rescuers have been pumping out the water, which had fallen 50 feet from original levels as of Wednesday night, said the deputy director of the publicity department of Pingtang county.
In the neighbouring region of Guangxi, 19 miners were missing in a coal mine that collapsed on Saturday after days of heavy rain. More than 80 rescuers were working around the clock to dig through a sludge-flooded tunnel to reach the miners, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The owner of the mine, Guangxi Heshan Coal Mining, posted a notice offering two million yuan (£193,000) to rescuers for each miner they pull out alive. Forty-nine other miners had escaped Saturday's cave-in, and three were confirmed dead.
China's mining industry is the deadliest in the world, although the government has improved safety standards in recent years. A total of 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China last year, 198 fewer than in 2009.