A sudden collapse happened on Tuesday thwarted the rescue efforts to reach a working platform where most of the 172 miners were trapped in Huayuan Coal Mine in Xintai of Shandong Province, on China's eastern seaboard.
Despite slim chances of survival for the miners trapped since August 17, rescuers nevertheless have not abandoned their efforts and have been digging an extra 385-meter-deep hole with the hope of reaching the working platform.
By 6 pm Tuesday, the rescuers had dug 381 meters beneath the ground with a drill specially taken from Shengli Oilfield and will have to break through another four meters of soil before they reach the working passage where most of Huayuan Coal Mine's 172 trapped miners were working, said sources from the rescue headquarters.
But a collapse happened at the mine entrance obstructed their efforts, and rescuers are carrying out emergent repair work.
Flood water swept through a 65-meter wide breach in the Wenhe River levee on August 17, inundating the Huayuan and Minggong mines, leaving 181 miners trapped underground, including 172 miners from Huayuan Coal Mine.
Twelve water pumps have been put into operation at the two flooded coal mines, which have pumped out a total of 1.43 million cubic meters of water.
By 6 pm Tuesday, the water level of Huyuan coal mine had fallen to 29.98 meters, 62.62 meters down from the previous level, but rescuers have to reduce the water level by 59.98 meters to reach the nearest location where some of the 172 miners might be trapped.
In addition, health and environment experts said on Tuesday that no water pollution and epidemic have been detected in the areas around the flooded mines.