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Death Toll Rises at Flooded Chinese Coal Mine

The death toll at a flooded coal mine in northern China has risen to 12, just days after the dramatic rescue of 115 miners who had been trapped underground for more than a week.

Rescue efforts for the 26 miners still trapped were briefly suspended Thursday after water began leaking from the ceiling into one of the pits. Rescuers believed they were about 100 meters from the areas where the miners could be trapped.

Rescue headquarters' spokesman Liu Dezheng said pumps to remove water are no longer effective because the submerged area is "like a huge swamp." He added that oxygen levels in the mine are low but that the gas level is safe.

The Wangjialing coal mine in Shanxi province filled with water on March 28, trapping 153 miners. Authorities say the mine likely flooded after workers penetrated old or abandoned shafts that had accumulated water.

On Monday, 115 workers were rescued after eight days of surviving on tree bark and murky water.

The disaster has highlighted the issue of mine safety in China , where more than 2,600 coal miners were killed last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.