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More than 20 workers are trapped inside a coal mine following flooding in south-west China’s Yunnan province in the early hours of Monday morning, according to local reports.

The incident occurred at 4.50 am in a mine in the Qilin district of Qujing city, where 26 miners were working underground, reports Xinhua, citing the emergency office of the Qujing Municipal Government.

Rescue teams were immediately sent to the mine and four of the 26 workers were rescued.

Rescue headquarters deputy head Zhang Lei said that the water level in the mine shaft was dropping as rescuers pumped water out.

"The water level in the mine shaft was dropping as rescuers pumped water out."

Three high-powered pumps and more than 500 people have been dispatched to the site as part of the rescue operations.

An investigation into the accident is under way.

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By GlobalData

In recent years, mining authorities have shut small operations across the country to improve conditions and poor safety records.

In December 2013, 21 miners died in an explosion at Baiyanggou coal mine in China’s western Xinjiang region.

In May 2013, around 40 miners died in two accidental blasts in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in the south-west.

China is the world’s largest consumer of coal and holds approximately 13% of the world’s proven reserves.