Relatives of the trapped miners, frustrated at the lack of information provided by the authorities, broke into the mine's compound on several occasions and scuffled sporadically with site security.
 
"I heard they stopped pumping out water from the mine. It is the same as saying they have given up," Zhou Feng, whose father is trapped, said.
 
Slow rescue
 
Officials insisted that the rescue operation was still continuing, and Li Yizhong, head of China's General Administration of Work Safety, said rescue teams had to proceed with caution because of the dangers of further flooding and gas leaks in the mine.
 
"But the pumping operation is already underway," he told Xinhua news agency at the disaster site.
 
CCTV state television reported that drilling was under way at the site to cut through the rock, while Xinhua said 11 water pumps had been installed.
 
Xinhua said "the task is not easy" due to the volume of water in the flooded shaft.
 
A senior official from Shandong’s provincial government said many of the missing workers had not been located. "We are doing the best we can," Zhang Dekuan, the province's secretary general, said.
 
"At the moment we are trying to locate where the majority of the missing miners are and we will concentrate our efforts in that direction."
 
Torrential rains triggered flooding on Friday which breached river flood defences and sent water cascading into the mine.
 
Over 750 miners were underground when the water filled the mine. Many managed to escape, but 172 workers did not find a way out.