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Trapped workers confirmed dead in Xinjiang
( 2003-11-02 10:36) (Xinhua)

Seven workers trapped in a flooded coal mine in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were confirmed to be dead, announced by the regional safe production supervision bureau on coal mine safety at a press conference Saturday.

The seven trapped miners, all rural laborers from southwestern China's Sichuan province, have been trapped since the deluge occurred at 7:10 a.m. on October 19 in the Xishan Colliery, Urumqi, when 14 people were working underground. Seven escaped.

According to rescuers' report, the workers were quite possible to be buried in the build-up of sludge as the shaft, where the worker were working in, was just the place the flooding occurred, said Bian Deyun, an official with the regional supervision bureau on coal mine safety.

In addition, the high concentration of gas in the mine was deadly to the workers and caused great problems for the rescue work, said Bian.

There was still a large amount of sludge blocking the shaft, and it is expected to be cleared in 30 to 50 days, when the workers' bodies could be found, said Tian Guangxiong, an official of the bureau.

The cause of the accident might have been breaches in the upper and lower ledges, causing water in the finished upper ledge to pour down, according to the rescue team.

The shaft, where the accident took place, was dug without permission of the Ministry of Land and Resources, said Tian.

Meanwhile, the mine manager had the shaft closed to avoid a safety examination conducted by local government just three days before the accident happened, according to Tian.

In addition, just one day before that tragedy took place, the safety supervisor of the mine reported to the manager that there was unusual flooding in the shaft, but the manager did not order to stop production, said Tian.

Also in the coal mine, another explosion, which happened on July 19 of this year, killed one and injured three.

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