Families of the miners said other mines in the area pulled their workers to the surface before the dyke burst because of flooding fears.

 

Nine miners died in another mine shaft nearby that also was flooded.

The Xintai mine went bankrupt three years ago when it was a state firm. It was bought up by Huayuan, a private company.

Deadly record

 

The Huayuan accident was the deadliest mining accident in China since 214 miners were killed in an explosion in Liaoning province in February 2005.

 

The Chinese government has vowed to improve mine safety.

 

But China's mining industry remains the world's deadliest, killing nearly 3,800 people last year.

Coal is a primary energy source in China to fuel the burgeoning economy and with prices riding high these days, some operators ignore safety rules in the interest of higher production.