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Bodies recovered from China mine
Search teams urged to "keep fighting" to reach 33 miners still trapped after rescue of 115.
Last Modified: 06 Apr 2010 18:40 GMT
China's leaders have urged search teams to 'step up rescue efforts, and work all out' [EPA]

Five bodies have been found in a flooded coal mine in northern China's Shanxi province as rescuers race to find the remaining 33 miners nine days after flooding trapped them deep underground.

The recovery of the bodies and race to reach the remaining miners follows the rescue of 115 who were pulled out alive of the flooded pit on Monday, after sustaining themselves on bark and filthy water, state media said.

Search teams found five bodies as they continued rescue operations overnight on Tuesday but the authorities expressed confidence that the remaining 33 miners could be saved, state television reported.

Officials said 153 workers were trapped in the unfinished Wangjialing mine after they drilled through an adjacent abandoned shaft filled with water during tunnelling works, flooding the mine with the equivalent of more than 55 Olympic swimming pools of water.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from outside the mine, said although officials have insisted that the total number of people trapped by the flooding was 153, speculation has persisted that the number could be higher.

The list is believed to only cover registered miners, not unregistered, temporary workers, and at least one person our correspondent spoke to said his nephew, who worked at the mine, remained unaccounted for and not on the list of 153.

All-out effort

Chinese leaders have urged an all-out effort to free the remaining men.

"The most important thing is the safety of the 38 miners who are still trapped in the pit," Liu Dezheng, a provincial official, told reporters late on Monday.

in depth

 

  People and Power: On the coalface
  People and Power: China's miners toil in misery
  Minefield for China coal workers

"Our rescue teams are racing against time, using all the possible means and mobilising all possible forces to save them."

Hu Jintao, the president, and Wen Jiabao, the premier, were reported as being "deeply worried" about the miners.

"The rescuers at the front must continue to foster the spirit of not being scared of exhaustion and to keep fighting, step up rescue efforts, and work all out ... to do whatever is possible to save the remaining miners," Xinhua quoted them as saying.

Most of the miners rescued on Monday were in a stable condition, but suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and skin infections, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

Some 60 of them were being transferred to bigger hospitals in the provincial capital Taiyuan, and 26 were in "relatively serious" condition, it added.

Safety ignored

The Wangjialing mine project belongs to a joint venture between China National Coal Group and Shanxi Coking Coal Group, two of China's larger state-owned firms.

In video


Harry Fawcett reports from Shanxi on the likelihood of unregistered miners still missing

Last week a preliminary investigation found that the operator of the Wangjialing mine had ignored water leaks before the accident, the State Administration of Work Safety said.

"We demand the company get prepared for an investigation ... and provide real technical data and basic information for it," said Liu.

Monday's rescue was rare good news for China's perilous coal mining industry, the deadliest in the world with thousands killed every year in floods, explosions, collapses and other accidents.
 
Most accidents are blamed on failure to follow safety rules or lack of required ventilation, fire controls and equipment.

Official figures show that the number of people killed in Chinese coal mines dropped to 2,631 in 2009, an average of seven a day, from 3,215 in 2008.

Source:
Agencies
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