Flood in Chinese coal mine traps 172

Water from a rain-swollen river poured into a coal mine in eastern China, leaving 172 miners trapped and feared dead, government officials and a state news agency reported Saturday.

Flood in Chinese coal mine traps 172

A dike on the Wen river in Shandong province broke Friday afternoon, sending water flooding into the mine in the city of Xintai, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Work areas were submerged and the miners "had only slim chances of survival," Xinhua said, citing Wang Ziqi, director of Shandong's coal mine safety agency. There was no indication whether rescuers had any sign that miners were alive.

Employees who answered the phone at the national coal mine safety agency in Beijing and refused to give their names said none of the miners had been found.

The disaster came as rescuers in Utah suspended the search for six coal miners trapped since Aug. 6 by a cave-in. Authorities announced the suspension Friday following a tunnel collapse that killed three rescue workers.

The Xintai mine was operated by the Huayuan Mining Co., Xinhua said.

A total of 756 miners were working underground at the time of the flood and 584 escaped, the report said.

About 2,000 soldiers, police and miners were trying to close the 175-foot-wide gap in the flood dike, the agency reported.

The directors of China's industrial safety and coal mine safety agencies rushed to Xintai from Beijing to oversee rescue work, the report said.

China's coal mines are the world's deadliest, with thousands of fatalities each year in fires, floods and other disasters. Many are blamed on managers who disregard safety rules, fail to install required fire-control and other equipment or push miners to dig far more coal than the mine's license allows.

The government has promised for years to improve mine safety.

Authorities have ordered thousands of small pits closed, offer rewards to whistleblowers who expose problems and prosecute officials who collude with unscrupulous mine bosses.

But China depends on coal for most of its electric power and the country's economic boom has created voracious demand. Production has more than doubled since 2000 to supply factories, shopping malls and other customers.

In China's deadliest reported coal mine disaster since the 1949 communist revolution, an explosion killed 214 miners on Feb. 14, 2005, in the Sunjiawan mine in Liaoning province.


Last Mod: 18 Ağustos 2007, 10:48
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