Chinese rescuers pull more bodies from mine blast

Chinese rescuers pulled five bodies from a flooded coal mine and searched for 33 missing men.

Chinese rescuers pull more bodies from mine blast

Chinese rescuers on Tuesday pulled five bodies from a flooded coal mine and searched for 33 missing men a day after the "miracle" rescue of over 100 fellow miners who endured a week underground.

The survivors ate coal, bark and paper to get through their ordeal and drank the filthy water that surrounded them. Some built rafts in a failed bid to escape, or constructed rough platforms to try and keep above the flooding, state media said.

Officials said 153 miners were trapped in the unfinished Wangjialing mine in Xiangning, in the northern province of Shanxi, when water gushed in more than a week ago.

Rescuers pulled out 115 on Sunday and Monday, with media and officials hailing a "miracle" that came on a national holiday to honour the dead.

The high number of survivors was rare good news for China's perilous mining industry, the deadliest in the world with thousands killed every year in floods, explosions, collapses and other accidents. Shanxi is the heartland of the coal industry.

A special medical train ferried the worst injured to well-equipped hospitals in the provincial capital on Tuesday, while others were recovering fast.

"I want to have meat. Sausage would be better," the official Xinhua agency quoted one survivor saying after he was handed a bowl of egg and tomato noodles. The men were initially too weak to eat anything but gruel and glucose said Liu Qiang, deputy director of the medical team at rescue headquarters.

Rescuers braved the floodwaters and fluctuating mine gas once officials deemed a week of frantic pumping had lowered water levels enough to make a rescue possible. Tapping sounds on a pipe on Friday had raised hopes some miners were still alive.

"We reached 200 metres underground by raft only to find that there was not enough space for the raft to continue as the water level was too high. So we jumped into the water, swam towards the trapped miners and pulled them out," said rescuer Wang Kai.

Survivors were brought out from a platform, where rescuers had drilled a vertical hole last week. The hole ensured oxygen in the water-flooded pit while rescuers sent down bags of glucose.

Most of the survivors were stable but suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and skin infections, and 26 were in a "relatively serious" condition, Xinhua said.

Deadly industry

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were "deeply worried" about the miners, the Xinhua report said.

"Rescuers at the front must continue to foster the spirit of not being scared of exhaustion and to keep save the remaining miners," it quoted them as saying.

Workers are tempted into hazardous jobs in China's mines by wages that can be much higher than for many other jobs open to blue-collar workers and rural migrants.

Strong demand for energy and lax standards have made China's mines often deadly places to work, despite a drive to clamp down on small, unsafe operations where most accidents occur.

China says the shutdown of many of the most dangerous private operations has helped cut accidents. The number of people killed in coal mines dropped to 2,631 in 2009, an average of seven a day, from 3,215 in 2008, according to official statistics.

But the deadliest accidents are not limited to private firms. The Wangjialing mine was a project belonging to a joint venture between China National Coal Group and Shanxi Coking Coal Group, two of China's larger state-owned firms.

"We demand the company get prepared for an investigation ... and provide real technical data and basic information for it," said Liu Dezheng, a Shanxi provincial mining official.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Nisan 2010, 14:07