5 Apr 2010

Dozens of trapped coal miners rescued in China

6:55 pm on 5 April 2010

At least 95 workers have been found alive in a Chinese coal mine more than a week after they were trapped by an underground flood, in what state media has hailed as a miracle rescue.

So far, 79 of the workers have been pulled out of the state-owned Wangjialing mine in Shanxi province, China's coal producing heartland, according to state television.

No fatalities have yet been reported.

The Communist party boss in Shanxi province, Zhang Baoshun, was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying he expects more survivors to be found.

A total of 153 workers were trapped in the state-owned Wangjialing mine in Shanxi when it flooded during construction work on 28 March.

About 3000 people worked around the clock for eight days to try to pump out water and reach them.

China Central Television showed footage of the first of the rescued men being rushed to hospital on stretchers early on Monday.

Previously, the only vague sign of life in the huge mine came on Friday, when rescuers heard a tapping sound on a drill pipe.

The accident occurred when workers apparently dug into an older adjacent mine that had been shut down and filled with water, press reports say.

The work safety watchdog has blamed the accident on lax safety standards by the Huajin Coking Coal Company, which it says failed to heed repeated warnings that water was accumulating in the pit days before the disaster.

Workers at the mine, which was under construction, had also been ordered to step up the pace of work in order to ensure that coal production began by October this year, the safety watchdog said.

Workers' safety is often ignored in China's collieries. According to official statistics, 2,631 coal miners were killed last year in China.