Rescue work speeds up for 181 trapped miners

Updated: 2007-08-29 11:42

XINTAI -- Rescue operation quickend pace as two more large-capacity water pumps were added as of Tuesday to reach 181 miners who have been trapped inside two coal mine shafts in Xintai, east China's Shandong Province, since two weeks ago.

Flood water swept through a 65-meter wide breach in the Wenhe River levee on August 17, inundating the Huayuan and Minggong mines, leaving 181 people trapped underground.

Chinese water resources specialists have blamed the disaster largely on heavy rain and inadequate flood prevention facilities.

Eleven pumps are busy working near the mines, piping out 4,850 cubic meters of water per hour, according to Wang Baoshan, who is in charge of water pumping operation at the two coal mines.

One more power pump is being trucked in from central China's Henan Province and would have been installed by midday on Wednesday, Chen Zhenluo, Party secretary of Henan Provincial Coal Mine Emergency Response Center, who is here in charge of installation.

By 6 pm Tuesday, water level in the shaft of Huayuan coal mine dropped to 57.55 meters, 35.05 meters down from the highest level. But rescuers have to lower the water level by another 87.55 meters to reach the 172 trapped miners.

Bu Changsen, chief of the specialist panel with the rescue headquarters, said the water level inside Huayuan coal mine shaft fell by 2.37 meters on Tuesday alone, the biggest falling range for a single day since August 23.

In the nearby Minggong coal mine, water level lowered to 57.66 meters.

As the thermo-electric plant of Huayuan Mining Co Ltd, which was suspended from production after the coal mine of the company was flooded on August17, formally announced to resume production late on Tuesday, its 308 workers went back to work.

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