BEIJING (AP) -- Farmers trying to extract gold from an abandoned mine in central China were overcome by chemical fumes, leaving three dead and six hospitalized, state media reported Tuesday.
Rescuers were dispatched to the mine in Songxian County in the central province of Henan on Saturday after a tipoff from the public, the Xinhua News Agency said.
Although the mine had been abandoned, making any operations there illegal, local farmers were hoping to separate remnants of gold from the rock with the use of chemicals such as sodium cyanide, Xinhua said. They were then apparently overwhelmed by the gasses released.
Xinhua said the case remains under investigation. Tuesday was a national holiday and calls to the local government rang unanswered. No official notice was posted on the county's website or official microblog.
China has vastly improved its mine safety record in recent years through the closure of thousands of small operations.