China

China mine accident: Dozens of miners pulled out alive

  • 5 November 2011
  • From the section China

Emergency teams in central China have rescued the remaining 45 miners who were trapped underground following a cave-in.

Chinese media say they were trapped for 36 hours in the Qianqiu colliery in the city of Sanmenxia in Henan province.

Eight miners were rescued on Friday while 14 escaped soon after the accident late on Thursday.

Officials said eight miners were killed in the cave-in, which occurred after a minor earthquake.

Lax safety standards

On Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV showed images of miners being pulled out on stretchers with towels wrapped around their eyes to protect them from the sun's glare.

The authorities said the initial rescue operation had been hampered by coal dust following an explosion.

They said that 75 miners had been working in the pit 480m down when a "rock burst" occurred - an explosion caused by the sudden release of built-up pressure.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.9 hit the area shortly before the rock burst.

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According to one report, rescuers dug a long tunnel in order to reach the trapped men.

Luo Lin, head of the State Administration for Work Safety, praised the rescuers but said the "alarm bell of work safety must keep ringing".

"Enterprises should pay attention to work safety when the coal demand is high. They should not allow any operation that violates rules or regulations," he said.

This rescue will be cause for celebration in China, but the country's mines remain the deadliest in the world, the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says.

Officials recorded more than 2,400 deaths in China's coal mines last year, down from nearly 7,000 in 2002.

The industry is notorious for its lax safety standards.

Last week a gas explosion at a mine in neighbouring Hunan province killed 29 people.

But officials insist the country's record is improving, and say they have taken action by closing many illegal mines.

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