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22 remain trapped in NE China mine

08-29-2011 09:53 BJT

BEIJING - Twenty-two coal miners were trapped for a fifth day on Sunday in a flooded pit in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, with three survivors hospitalized in stable condition and one miner pronounced dead, local officials said.

A rescued miner is treated at the Qitaihe People's Hospital in Qitaihe, Heilongjiang
province, on Saturday. [Photo/ Xinhua]

Rescuers found the four workers at mining platform No 9 about 270 meters underground. Three were carried out alive on Saturday night. The fourth was evacuated on Sunday morning, but he had drowned.

CCTV earlier reported five people were trapped at the No 9 platform and 20 others were trapped at the No 10 platform further below.

"There is still hope for other survivors, but that depends on the rescue progress," Li Xingyuan, spokesman for the rescue operation, told China Daily.

Workers mistakenly drilled into a neighboring deserted mine on Tuesday, causing a flood in the pit in Boli county, Qitaihe city, when 45 miners were underground. Nineteen managed to escape at that time.

According to the latest figures from the rescue headquarters, 13 pumps had removed 80,160 cubic meters of water as of noon Sunday. Early in the rescue operation, the headquarters said about 40,000 cu m of water had gushed into the pit.

Li said the unexpectedly large volume of water underground reflected a faulty pit map provided by the mine operator, who did not mark some of the mining sites on the map.

"We cannot estimate when we can pump out enough water to give a realistic chance of a rescue. The situation is changing constantly."

Li, who is also deputy director of Boli county's coal mine safety supervision bureau, added water is being discharged at 990 cu m per hour, lowering the water level about 45 cm every hour.

Because of the complicated pit structure, the water level fell only 10 cm to 14 cm every hour in the early phase of the rescue.

Meanwhile, three drills that went below 260 meters with the goal of delivering food and medicine and providing an air path failed to reach any miners by Saturday noon.

New sites had been selected and the drills had gone 118 meters, 199 meters and 210 meters as of Sunday afternoon.

The spokesman said that relatives had taken the body of the drowned miner home.

A doctor surnamed Li from the Qitaihe People's Hospital told China Daily by phone that three miners sent to her hospital are in stable condition.

"Two people have no big problem at all. The third only sustained some bruises and a skin infection on his arm."

Photographs show one saved miner's fingers covered with black spots.

The Beijing Times identified the three survivors as 41-year-old Wang Qiangping, 37-year-old Li Xuewei and 41-year-old Jing Renguang.

At one point, the water was shoulder-deep, and the head of their team at the No 9 platform - the fifth person at that site - was washed away, the survivors said.

They recalled climbing and wading toward a dim light when they noticed the water level dropping on Saturday.

"We had nothing to eat, just drank water all the time", Xinhua News Agency quoted Jing as saying. "Wearing a watch, I told the time to others and that gave us some hope."

"When we calmed down a bit, we talked about what we would do after getting back above the ground. We talked about happy things and avoided depressing topics."

The mining company allocated 20 million yuan ($3.13 million) for the rescue and every family of the 26 trapped miners received an initial 3,000 yuan subsidy.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: China Daily

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