Guizhou coal mine floods trap 36 workers
Rescuers furiously pumped water from a shaft at a flooded mine in southwest China where 36 workers are missing and feared dead as the country reels from another disaster in the danger-plagued industry.
Forty-four workers got out safely, but the others were unaccounted for, he said.
"Right now we have five pumps working to evacuate the water, we still don't know how deep the water is," Wu said. "At this time it is hard to say if those in the mine have a chance to survive."
So far no casualties have been reported.
Provincial authorities had arrived on the scene to assess damage and conduct the rescue work, he said, adding that the mine was a small township-run operation registered with the local government.
It was unclear what measures the government would take, but, as often happens in these cases, other small mines were likely to be shut down for safety inspections.
Also this month, mining operations in the Guizhou village of Zuojiaying were seen as a possible cause of a devastating landslide that killed at least 39 people, state press said.
A lack of awareness and investment in safety procedures at mines has been seen as key element in the recent series of accidents.
On Friday, British and US mine safety experts said China should look to the industry in those countries if it seriously wanted to cut down on fatalities and improve safety standards.
For example, more than 100,000 coal miners have died in work-related accidents in Britain since 1850, but the rate of deaths decreased drastically after sustained efforts to make mining safer.
"Because we have been through that, should China have to go through it?" said Dave Feickert, a former British labor union official and coal mining expert.
"It's really important that our governments get behind that issue."
China reports about 7,000 mine fatalities annually.