Rescuers have confirmed 14 deaths at the flooded Wangjialing coal mine in north China’s Shanxi Province, with the recovery of two more bodies on Thursday from a shaft where the water level had dropped by 300m.

Rescue headquarters said another 24 trapped miners were still missing in the ill-fated Wangjialing mine, from which 115 miners were already rescued.

Nearly 5,000 rescuers have been working at the site to pump out water and rescue trapped miners, however, a shaft leak has hampered their efforts.

Rescue headquarters’ spokesman Liu Dezheng said there is also a threat of dangerous gases seeping into spaces underground, creating the risk of an explosion.

According to rescuers, the initial flood was caused when workers tapped into a disused mine full of water.

A total of 153 miners were working at the mine, which was flooded on 28 March.