A buildup of volatile gas hampered rescue efforts in one Chinese coal mine and high levels of water slowed them in another as emergency crews raced to reach 40 miners trapped Sunday for a second day, officials and state media reports said.
The accidents _ a cave-in at one mine and a flood at the other _ occurred Saturday in two southern provinces after days of heavy rains.
At the Heshan mine in Guangxi, rescuers vented explosive gas released from coal seams and pumped out silt-filled water as they tried to reach 19 miners believed to be 1,200 feet (390 meters) underground, the state media reports said. China Central Television interviewed a miner who said he heard a loud explosion before the cave-in, which killed at least three miners.
Waters continued to flood into the Niupeng mine in Guizhou, where 21 miners are trapped. Industrial pumps were brought into action but the waters remained high, CCTV said.
Heavy demand for coal to fuel China's economy has turned Chinese mines into the world's deadliest, despite constant safety campaigns that have managed to reduce fatal accidents. On Saturday, the State Administration of Work Safety released its latest order for vigilance after accidents at four other mines, a construction site and a port left 26 people dead in the past two weeks.