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Last Updated: Monday, 29 August 2005, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
China abandons search for miners
Chinese rescue workers stand at the entrance to the Daxing Coal Mine
Authorities said the conditions were "not suitable for survival"
China has called off its search for survivors of a mine disaster which occurred earlier this month, and officially put the death toll at 123.

The announcement was made 23 days after the accident, which flooded a mine shaft at the Daxing colliery in Xingning, Guangdong province.

Just three bodies have reportedly been recovered from the flooded mine shaft.

China's mines are considered the world's deadliest, with 2,700 deaths reported in the first half of 2005.

The decision to call off rescue work was based on an assessment of the chances of any of the missing miners still being alive, according to the Xinhua news agency.

A total of 127 miners were working in the mine shaft when it flooded, and only four escaped.

Authorities said the conditions were "not suitable for survival" and that rescue efforts were "fraught with difficulty", Xinhua said.

The Daxing mine was operating without a license and there was a government ban on mining in the area at the time of the accident, following a flood at another colliery in mid-July, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

China map
Authorities have reportedly suspended two mayors who oversaw mines in the area, accusing them of negligence.

Chinese mines are extremely dangerous and accidents frequent because of poor safety standards and equipment.

In February, 212 people were killed in an explosion at another mine in north-eastern China.

Correspondents say increasing demand for energy has put pressure on mines in China to provide coal faster.

The Chinese government has recently pledged to take greater steps to improve mine safety.

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