Rescuers managed to clear toxic gas and resume their search Monday for 19 miners in a collapsed coal mine in south China while rescuers in a neighboring province raced to reach 23 people trapped by flooding in another mine, state media said.
The two disasters in southern China's Guangxi autonomous region and Guizhou province occurred within hours of each other Saturday and were both triggered by heavy rains, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
By Monday, rescuers at the Heshan mine in Guangxi had confirmed the location of 19 miners trapped by the cave-in Saturday but said their "condition was unclear," Xinhua said, citing rescue official Ye Fangyong.
Rescue efforts were halted for about nine hours after carbon monoxide gushed out of the mine, making it unsafe for rescuers, but started up again after gas levels returned to a safe level around noon on Monday, Xinhua said.
Forty-nine other miners escaped the cave-in, and three were confirmed dead.
In Guizhou, water was still being pumped out of the Niupeng mine but there was no word on the status of 23 people trapped in the flooded shafts, the website of the China Daily newspaper reported.
The Niupeng mine in Pingtang county, which was under construction and not operating at the time of the accident, is privately run. Such mines tend to have worse safety standards.
The head of Pingtang's government, Mao Youzhi, told the paper more than 1,000 police officers, firefighters and paramilitary personnel had been mobilized for the rescue effort.
Heavy demand for coal to fuel China's economy has made Chinese mines among the world's deadliest, despite constant safety campaigns that have managed to reduce fatal accidents.