13 confirmed trapped in  coal mine fire

Updated: 2008-03-09 09:20

HARBIN - A fire that broke out Wednesday night in a coal mine in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province trapped 13 miners who are still missing, the provincial work safety watchdog found out on Saturday.

The owner of the privately-owned Taiyuan coal mine in Hegang city had told authorities that no one was trapped in the accident that occurred at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.

But the city government and the provincial work safety watchdog received a tip-off Friday that 13 miners were and still are trapped in the mine.

Investigations by the authorities, including visits to miners' families and inquiry of the mine owner confirmed the tip-off.

The conditions of the trapped miners are not known.

Rescuers arrived at the site shortly after the accident. They had pumped water into the shaft after using out all their fire extinguishers.

The fire was contained but not put out.

As of 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, rescuers with masks could be seen emerging from the smoky mine entrance.

Rescue officials said that it would take at least a week to extinguish the fire.

The accident mine is a licensed one and has an annual production capacity of 90,000 tons.

Investigation into the cause of the accident is still underway.

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