TAIYUAN, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Seven men have been confirmed dead after being trapped underground for more than 40 hours in a coal mine flood in north China's Shanxi Province, the local government said on Thursday.
The accident happened at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday in Yangquan, where 12 people illegally dug a mine pit in a residential building. Six of the 12 managed to escape the flood.
A preliminary investigation showed another six people were excavating coal in a connected pit nearby when the flood occurred. One man from this group was trapped underground.
Rescuers had pumped more than 12,000 cubic meters of water out of the pits by the time they wrapped up their work.
Liu Xianyun, a production safety official in the city of Yangquan, said the pits' owner tried to escape instead of reporting the accident immediately to the local government.
He said police have detained the main suspects in the illegal mining operations.
Related government departments are making a geological survey of the area and looking for hidden dangers in order to avoid secondary disasters, said Liu.
The mine pits are located in residential areas and are close to a special railway for coal transportation.
The government of Yangquan has initiated a campaign to discourage illegal mining. The government is investigating related cases and encouraging local residents to report illegal mining operations.
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