Mine rescue operation continues as hope fades
By Hu Yinan
Updated: 2007-08-21 07:09

XINTAI, Shandong: Hopes for the survival of 181 miners trapped in two separate flooded coal mines faded yesterday but the rescue operation continued.

Pumps were being used to remove water from Huayuan Coal Mine, about 150 km south of the provincial capital Jinan, and Minggong Coal Mine, around 10 km from the Huayuan mine.

But the pumping capacity is about 7,000 cu m an hour while the water in the flooded mines was an estimated 12 million cu m on Sunday. More pumps are being rushed to the site.

The water level in the Huayuan mine continued to drop after a 50-meter-long levee breach of the Wenhe River was blocked early on Sunday. The breach led to the flooding of the two mines.

Meanwhile, four well drilling sets from the Shengli Oilfield in the province were in place at the mine and one had started drilling. The drilling of the flooded shaft will help speed up the pumping progress, said Bu Changsen, a flood prevention expert with the rescue headquarters.

The flooding happened on Friday, first at the Huayuan mine in Xintai, and later at Minggong mine.

When water gushed in around 2:30 pm, 756 miners were working underground at the Huayuan mine, and 584 managed to escape.

Ninety-five miners were working at the Minggong mine when the flooding occurred, and 86 escaped.

Four temporary working groups have been set up to deal with the aftermath at both mines, including one for compensation and another to deal with relatives of the trapped miners.

Of the 172 trapped miners at Huayuan Coal Mine, 111 were full-time employees, and the rest temporary workers.

Xinhua contributed to the story

(China Daily 08/21/2007 page1)