69 trapped in coal mine flooding

Updated: 2007-07-29 23:03

Rescuers take a break at Zhijian coal mine in Shanxian county, Henan Province July 30, 2007. Sixty-nine miners are still trapped underground in the flooded mine. [Xinhua]
ZHENGZHOU -- Sixty-nine miners were trapped after a coal mine flooded in central China's Henan Province, rescue headquarters said Sunday night.

The flooding occurred at around 8:40 a.m. Sunday at the Zhijian coal mine in Shanxian county, about 200 kilometers west of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, when 102 miners were working underground, the rescue headquarters said.

Thirty-three managed to escape but 69 others were trapped, it said after checking the numbers. The mine reported earlier that 70 miners were trapped because of miscalculation.

"The rescue operation is going on in an orderly way and the most import task is to try every effort to pump water for the time being," said an official with the headquarters.

Rescuers are also ordered to use the ground ventilation system to supply wind to the flooded mine and drill holes from the ground to the shaft where miners are trapped to ensure enough oxygen.

Floodwater triggered by rainstorms Saturday night swamped the mine through an aluminium mine pit and an old shaft of the mine, the headquarters said.

The floodwater had been initially said to have come from the bed of a nearby river.

The mine, built in 1958, is a state-owned one operated by Zhijian Mining Co., Ltd. It has a designed annual production capacity of 210,000 tons, but actually produces 300,000 tons every year.

Li Yizhong, head of the State Administration of Work Safety, has arrived at the mine to direct rescue operation.

Xu Guangchun, Henan's provincial Communist Party boss who rushed to the scene with Li Yizhong, head of China's top work safety watchdog, was able to talk to some trapped workers by telephone on Sunday night, Xinhua said.

It was still raining on Monday morning, hampering rescue efforts.

The Zhijian mine, which was founded in 1958, had a designed annual production capacity of 210,000 tonnes, but actually produced 300,000 tonnes each year.

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