Rescuers are seen at a coal mine run by Guomin Mining Co., Ltd. in Yichuan County of central China's Henan Province, April 1, 2010. Two miners were confirmed dead and one more injured in a coal and gas outburst in Yichuan Wednesday. [Xinhua]
YICHUAN, Henan - At least forty nine miners have survived the underground coal mine explosion that left at least two dead and one injured in central China's Henan Province Wednesday.
Henan Governor Guo Gengmao said Thursday the mine manager has not been contactable since the gas explosion occurred at 7:20 p.m. Wednesday in the mine operated by Guomin Mining Co. Ltd. in Yichuan County, Luoyang City.
Guo said the exact number of miners working underground at the time of the blast is not yet known.
"Rescuers have determined the explosion occurred at the entrance to the pit after an underground gas outburst. There is still a chance those trapped underground survived the explosion," said Guo, who is leading the rescue efforts.
Some 29 of the 49 miners that survived were saved by rescuers led by the deputy mine manager. The 20 others escaped by themselves.
"We have found two more miners alive down the pit and we will bring them out very soon," said Zhang Zhenqing, a rescuer on the scene.
Zhang said he has been involved in the rescue since 8 p.m. Wednesday.
He said it was unclear how many miners were underground when the accident occurred as the name list of miners on duty was destroyed in the blast.
"The pipe sending coal out of the mine was cut in half by the blast. A nearby two-story building caved in," said a witness who refused to give his name.
A middle-aged woman said after she heard the loud blast at 7:20 p.m., she fled her house carrying her 3-year-old daughter in her arms and did not return home until 12 p.m. Wednesday.
The families of the missing miners have gathered at the mine entrance. Rescue work is ongoing.
Work safety authorities ordered the mine suspend operations after a gas outburst on May 1, 2009 - making production after that date illegal - the Henan Administration of Work Safety said in a statement.
The coal mine was privately owned by Guomin and the company's legal representative, Wang Guozheng, has been uncontactable, the statement said.
Yochuan County Chief Wu Ligang and three other county officials have been removed from their posts since the accident.