An underground flood trapped 44 miners in a coal mine in northern China, and
nine mine managers were detained after apparently trying to conceal the scale of
the disaster, the government said Sunday.
The flood Thursday in the Xinjing Coal Mine in Shanxi province was the
biggest accident so far this year in China's disaster-plagued mining industry,
which suffers thousands of deaths annually, according to television
Rescuers install steel
pipes to pump water out of the flooded shaft of a coal mine in order to
rescue at least 44 still trapped underground in Zuoyun county, Shanxi
Province May 20, 2006. A total of 145 miners were working underground when
the flooding accident took place on Thursday night, and 101 managed to
escape, rescuers said. [Xinhua]
director of the State Administration of Work Safety, called on Sunday for
quickening efforts to rescue the miners trapped in the flooded
Li, Shanxi Party secretary Zhang Baoshun and governor Yu
Youjun, have arrived at the flooded coal mine to coordinate the rescue efforts.
Li called for more pumping facilities be sent to speed up pumping water
from the flooded pit, hoping to increase the chance of survival for the trapped
Six bigger pumps have been installed and more pumps will be
installed later on Sunday to quicken the rescue operation, said head of the
Li also ordered that the exact number of miners who got
trapped in the flooded colliery be verified. Local safety authorities had tried
to cover up the deadly accident by reporting earlier that only five miners were
rescue team was searching for the missing miners, the Xinhua News Agency
reported. It is unknown yet how many were believed to be alive.
Mine managers failed to report the true size of the disaster, saying only
five miners were missing, Xinhua said.
"In this sense, the actual situation of the accident was covered up," Xinhua
quoting Gong Anku, head of the Shanxi provincial industrial safety bureau, as
Nine managers have been detained, and their boss is in hiding, Xinhua said.
Mine managers drove relatives of missing miners by taxi out of Shanxi to the
neighboring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region "to prevent them from rioting and
speaking to the press," and one driver, instructed by the boss to transfer
the relatives, was beaten up by the angry relatives, according to the
Mine managers in other places have used similar tactics after previous
accidents, effectively detaining miners' families to compel them to accept
financial settlements and promise not to speak up.
Rescue workers were using nine pumps to drain the mine and were bringing in
three more to speed up the rescue operation.
A total of 145 miners were said to be working underground in the Xinjing Coal
Mine at the time of the accident, and 101 escaped, Xinhua said.
But television report said the number of missing might be even higher,
because disorderly mine management left it unclear how many were working
The mine was operating at more than 10 times its licensed output level,
digging as much coal in one month as it was supposed to produce in a year, state
China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with about 6,000 deaths every
year in fires, floods and explosions, often blamed on indifference to safety
rules and lack of required equipment.
The annual death toll has been unchanged in recent years despite repeated
official promises to crack down.
Safety efforts have been complicated by soaring coal prices amid China's
booming economic expansion, which encourages local officials to overlook
violations in order to maximize revenues.