Official: Cause of fatal mine flood still under investigation

Updated: 2007-08-22 11:54

China is still investigating the fatal mine flood that has trapped 181 people at two pits in the eastern Shandong Province since Friday, and is yet to pinpoint the cause of the accident, a safety official said on Wednesday.

"The State Council, or the Chinese cabinet, is yet to set up an investigation team," said Huang Yi, spokesman of the State Administration of Work Safety. "And we have not been able to determine the cause of the accident thus far."

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Huang refuted some one-sided media reports that had blamed the mine flood on natural disaster or human factor alone, saying his administration had not made any statement to that effect.

"After all, the top priority at the moment is to speed up rescue operation and do whatever we can to search for the victims," he told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

Rescue work has lasted into the fifth day Wednesday after flood water swept through a 65-meter wide breach in the Wenhe River levee drowned the Huayuan and Minggong mines, about 150 km south of Shandong's provincial capital Jinan, last Friday afternoon.

An estimated 12.6 million cubic meters of water had poured down the two adjacent pits before the breach was blocked early on Sunday.

By 7:00 am on Wednesday, the water level at Huayuan Mine where 172 miners are trapped had fallen by 25.58 meters to 67.02 meters. Yet the rescue headquarters said they were still nearly 100 meters from even the 14 nearest miners, who were 208 meters below the surface.

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