Three workers trapped in a mine in northeastern China since it flooded 10 days ago are unlikely to survive the disaster, according to the state Xinhua news agency.

Rescue workers on Tuesday pulled 19 miners from the pit in China's Heilongjiang province, providing a rare good-news story in an industry notorious for lax safety standards that kill thousands of workers every year.

Efforts to rescue the three who remain trapped underground in the illegally-operated mine are continuing, but their chances of survival are slim, Xinhua reported.

Xinhua said the men had been located, citing rescue workers, but it was not clear whether they were still alive. "They have limited room for survival," the agency quoted a rescuer as saying.

Rescue workers continued to pump water out of the mine, which was flooded on August 23 when workers mistakenly drilled into a neighbouring mine that had been filled with water.

Of the 45 miners who were in the pit when it flooded, 19 escaped, four were pulled out on Saturday, one of whom later died, and another 19 were rescued early Tuesday morning.

China's coal mines, which have a dismal safety record, have been hit by a series of accidents in recent years as demand for energy has spiked.

Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics -- a rate of more than six workers per day.