Coal mine death toll expected to reach 151
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-30 05:58
But hope is dimming as the number of deaths climbs to 148 and the list of
those unaccounted for dwindles to just 3. But while their fate remains unknown
there is still hope, albeit slim, that they could have survived the explosion
that rocked Dongfeng Coal Mine in Qitaihe on Sunday and the ensuing gas
Xinhua reported that the mine's chief enginner told the investigators that
the management discovered colliery had been building up five days before the
explosion. They had appointed task forces to deal with the situation.
Although the official attendance roll shows 254 miners were on duty that day,
the number of miners' lamps issued for the shift suggests that actually 221 men
went down the pit.
Accompanying his mother, whose eyes have no tears left to cry, Yang, like
everyone in the community, knows how vulnerable a miner's life can be.
Together with his mother and younger sister, Yang was preparing a late dinner
on Sunday evening for his father. The 42-year-old was expected to climb out of
the mine at 11 pm.
"A bang at around 9:40 pm shocked us," said Yang, who lives three minutes
walk from the mine. He had been working the day shift on Sunday and had made his
way above ground at 3 pm. "I escaped the explosion by just a few hours."
He said his father, uncles and brother-in-law were digging in the third
mining zone, the most geographically complicated of the mine's 15 zones, where
the rest of the missing workers worked before the explosion.
"We are crying for the rescue team to reach them as soon as possible."
But after hours of efforts, choking gas forced the team to retreat from the
mine and wait for repairs to its ventilation system.
"It's really difficult to make the system work," said Li Yizhong, minister of
the State Administration of Work Safety, who arrived on the site Monday.
Provincial governor Zhang Zuoji also came to the mine to supervise the rescue
operation. Depressed and tired, the two officials yesterday drummed police,
soldiers and rescue forces to spare no efforts in saving miners. Before the mine
explosion they had been dealing with the environmental crisis in the Songhua
River in the province.