The official Xinhua news agency cited the head of the rescue effort as saying that the team would strive to finish the search in three to five days.

Rescuers have covered more than 90 per cent of the area, but it could take several more days to cover two channels where villagers believed more bodies were buried, the report said.

'Illegal mine'

Officials have said the mine was operating illegally and the mine owner, along with eight other senior managers, has been detained by police.

"It's not because of the rain. It wasn't a natural disaster, it was man-made," said Zhang, a migrant worker, who believed that his friend had been killed in the landslide.

State media quoted local authorities as saying that many of the dead were migrant workers from southwest China.

The head of Xiangfen county and the county's Communist Party committee chief have both been suspended from duty, Xinhua reported.

China's mining industry is the world's most dangerous, killing nearly 3,800 people last year, as high demand for raw materials from the country's booming economy pushes managers to cut corners and ignore safety requirements.