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102 miners trapped as flood waters rise
By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-08-09 05:50

XINGNING, Guangdong Province: More than 600 rescuers were battling against time yesterday to save 102 miners trapped in a coal mine in Xingning County, South China's Guangdong Province.

But after more than 24 hours trapped underground, hopes were fading last night of finding any of the men alive.

The Daxing Coal Mine, about 70 kilometres from Xingning, was flooded with an estimated 15-20 million cubic metre of water at 1:30 pm on Sunday.

A total of 106 miners were working in the shaft about 480 metres underground when the accident happened. Only four escaped, according to sources with the local government.

The rescue operation is being hampered as water continues to enter the mine. By yesterday morning, 50 cubic metres were seeping into the shaft every hour.

And mine experts have been struggling to work out where the water is coming from, further slowing rescuers. Yesterday two pumps were pumping water from the mine shaft with another three being installed.

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao urged the local government to establish a rescue team immediately after the accident. They also asked officials to "spare no effort" to save the trapped miners.

Li Yizhong, director of the National Bureau of Production Safety Supervision and Administration, and Zhao Tiechui, director of the State Coal Mine Safety Supervision Administration, arrived at the mine yesterday morning to supervise rescue work.

Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua also rushed to the site upon receiving news of the trapped men.

More than 80 of the trapped miners are from Guangdong's neighbouring provinces such as Hunan and Jiangxi, Chen Ganglin, director of the accident arrangement and co-ordination office, told China Daily yesterday.

"We are trying our best to save the miners although chances for survival seem slim," said Chen.

Although no death toll was announced yesterday, local residents believed the number of casualties is likely to be large.

One resident, a man surnamed Wang who used to work in the mine, told China Daily there are usually more than 200 miners working at the Daxing pit. "Almost all the miners were working when the accident happened," he said.

The local government has ordered coal mines in the county to suspend operations so safety inspections can be carried out. Investigation into the cause of the accident is still under way.

Xingning, in a northeastern mountainous area of Guangdong, is one of the major coal producing areas of the Pearl River Delta.

Early last month, another coal mine in the county's Luogang Town also flooded with water, killing 16 miners.

The Daxing Coal Mine used to be State-owned and closed down after going bankrupt early last year. However, it reopened under private ownership.

In another tragedy, 14 miners were killed and two others were missing after a gas explosion early Monday morning in a coal mine in Liupanshui City, Southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Information provided by the provincial bureau of production safety said 39 miners were working when the explosion occurred at around 3 am in the Wanzi Coal Mine in Shuicheng County. Only 23 miners managed to escape above ground after the accident and a rescue operation is underway. Wangzi Coal Mine, with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons, is a township-run colliery. It has not obtained a permit ensuring safe production.

(China Daily 08/09/2005 page1)

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