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China pulls 19 from flooded mine in rare rescue
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Aug 30, 2011

Rescue workers on Tuesday saved 19 miners from a flooded Chinese mine where they had been trapped for a week, state media said, in a rare good-news story for an industry in which thousands die each year.

The state CCTV television network showed the men being carried out on stretchers from the flooded mine swaddled in blankets, their eyes bandaged as they emerged into the daylight, several shouting their thanks to the rescuers.

Three people remained trapped in the mine in northeastern China, which was flooded on August 23 when workers mistakenly drilled into a neighbouring mine that had been filled with water, the state Xinhua news agency said.

China's coal mines, which have a dismal safety record, have been hit by a series of accidents in recent years as demand for energy has spiked.

News of Tuesday's rescue came as it emerged that six miners died when a mine in southwest China's Sichuan province flooded on Monday, also trapping another six.

Last year, 2,433 people died in coal mine accidents in China, according to official statistics -- a rate of more than six workers per day.

Labour rights groups, however, say the actual death toll is likely much higher, partly due to under-reporting of accidents as mine bosses seek to limit their economic losses and avoid punishment.

China's government has repeatedly pledged to make the mining industry safer, but large-scale rescue successes remain relatively rare.

When 115 workers were pulled alive from a flooded state-run mine in April 2010, the rescue received widespread media coverage and was even turned into a film.

Thirty-eight people died when the huge, state-run Wangjialing coal mine flooded as it was being built in Shanxi province in an accident blamed on lax safety standards.

In its latest campaign, the government issued a policy last year that required six kinds of safety systems, including rescue facilities, to be installed in all coal mines within three years.

Of the 45 miners who were in the pit in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang when it flooded, 19 escaped, four were rescued on Saturday -- one of whom later died -- and another 19 were pulled out early Tuesday morning.

Xinhua said loud cheers went up when the first of the men emerged from the mine early Tuesday.

"Rescuers are still going all-out to search for the three remaining miners," Xu Guangguo, head of the provincial rescue headquarters, told the agency.

It was not immediately clear whether the remaining three were still alive. Local officials contacted by AFP declined to comment and referred journalists to state media.

The mining company said it had bored 278 metres into the rock to pump oxygen into underground space where the 19 rescued men were trapped and that they had survived by drinking water dripping from the rocks, Xinhua reported.

Workers had been been pumping water out of the Heilongjiang mine for days and by Saturday afternoon had drained 56,150 cubic metres (about 2 million cubic feet), Xinhua said, citing rescuers.

On August 24, the government in Boli county -- where the mine is located -- said it had sacked two top officials for their roles leading up to the disaster, including the county head.

Provincial authorities had ordered work at the mine owned by the Hengtai Coal Mining Co. to halt in 2007, but on August 16 the owner illegally restarted production, Xinhua said.

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3 rescued in China mine, 23 still trapped
Beijing (AFP) Aug 27, 2011
Three miners trapped for more than four days in a flooded mine shaft in northeast China were rescued Saturday as authorities battled to reach another 23 workers still underground, state media said. The illegally operating mine in Heilongjiang province flooded on Tuesday when 45 workers were in the pit, the official Xinhua news agency said. Nineteen miners managed to escape shortly after the ... read more

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