China miners rescued from flooded Batian pit in Sichuan

Media caption,
The BBC's Martin Patience described the scene as the miners emerged

All 29 workers trapped underground in a flooded coal mine in south-west China have been rescued.

Chinese state television showed pictures of the miners being brought out of the mine, one by one, on stretchers.

Initially state media had said 28 miners were trapped; they later revised the number to 29.

The rescue operation took place at the Batian pit near Neijiang city in Sichuan province, state media reported.

State television showed ambulances, medics and relatives crowded around the entrance to the mine as each rescued miner was brought to the surface.

Each man came out barefoot and naked; they were wrapped in blankets and given sunglasses to cope with the sudden glare of light above ground.

Deadly record

Thirteen of the 41 miners underground at the small, private mine had managed to escape Sunday's flood.

An estimated 141,000 cu ft (4,000 cu m) of water had collected in the pit, said a provincial safety official.

If all miners are rescued safely, it will be a rare success in China's accident-prone mining industry.

China's mines are the world's deadliest; more than 2,600 miners died in accidents in 2009.

China depends on coal for about 70% of its energy needs.

Unlike many of the mines where accidents are most frequent, the Batian pit is legal and well regulated, officials told Chinese state media.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Batian had been in active production at the time of the flooding; it was being upgraded to increase its annual capacity from 50,000 tons to 60,000 tons.

The workers had been underground for safety work, it said.

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