BEIJING - Nine people died of suffocation when a rescue attempt went wrong at a lead and zinc ore mine in central China's Hunan province, state news agency Xinhua reported Saturday, citing local authorities.
The deaths occurred on Friday when two miners were overcome by a lack of oxygen in a disused air shaft at the mine in Yuanling county and rescuers and family members went in to try and help.
One miner died, as did five rescuers and three family members who tried to come to the aid of the miners but were themselves overcome.
The second miner was being treated in hospital afterwards but his life was not in danger.
China's mining sector is notoriously dangerous: last year 2,631 miners were killed, according to official statistics, but independent labour groups say the true figure could be much higher.
The high fatality rate is generally blamed on inefficiency and corruption in the sector, with coal mining particularly accident prone.
Municipal officials are investigating the accident at the Changqing Lead Zinc Corporation.