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Death toll rises to five in Chinese coal mine accident - Xinhua

BEIJING (Reuters) - Two more Chinese workers trapped in a coal mine have died, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, taking the death toll from the accident to five with 16 workers still missing.

The bodies of the two workers trapped in the mine in the eastern province of Shandong since Saturday were found early on Thursday, Xinhua reported, citing the rescue operations.

A rock burst destroyed part of a water drainage tunnel in the mine, owned by Shandong Energy Group Co Ltd, initially killing two and trapping 20 workers.

The progress of rescue teams has been slow due to difficulty in clearing debris to get to the trapped workers.

Two workers were rescued on Sunday, but state media said one of them later died.

Provincial authorities on Monday ordered 41 coal mines to halt production for security checks, though the cause of the accident remains unclear.

The state television reported a gas explosion in a coal mine in the southwestern province of Sichuan on Thursday killed four workers and injured two.

China’s thousands of coal mines are notorious for poor safety and the latest incidents raise fresh questions about whether producers have followed strict rules on exploration as they ramp up output.

Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Se Young Lee