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Last Updated: Monday, 20 August 2007, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
China continues search for miners
Miners fix breached levee in Shangdong province - 20/08/07
Fellow miners have been working to dam up the swollen river
Rescue workers in China are continuing to try to reach 181 miners trapped since Friday, but officials warn there is little hope of finding them alive.

Hundreds of soldiers, police and fellow miners are working to pump water from two flooded mine shafts at collieries in eastern Shandong Province.

Torrential rain caused a river to burst its banks, sending water cascading down an old shaft into the mine.

The incident has again thrown the spotlight on China's bad safety record.

In a separate incident, 14 people were killed on Sunday after a molten aluminium spill at a factory in the same province.

Relatives' protest

Rescue teams were working flat out to pump water from the mines, in Xintai City, 450km (280 miles) south of Beijing. By late Sunday the water level was reported to have dropped several metres.

Rescuers outside the flooded Xintai coal mine on 18 August
Continuing rain has frustrated rescuers' efforts at the mine

But officials warned it could take days before the water levels dropped enough for the pumps to reach the bottom of the mine.

"We are pumping the water out of the wells... but hopes of anyone surviving are very slim," An Yuanjie, of the State Administration of Work Safety, told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, hundreds of miners have been helping to mend the levee that breached the Wen River, sending water into two nearby mines.

China map

The main mine, where 172 miners are missing, was completely inundated and many of the missing are believed to be stranded far below the surface.

Nine other miners are also trapped at a nearby pit.

Provincial officials have called for "no efforts to be spared" in the rescue - and a similar message has come from Beijing.

But distraught relatives of the missing miners have been demonstrating, demanding information on the rescue effort and an open investigation into the incident itself.

Relatives rampage through the mining firm's offices

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