Rescue workers trying to reach 16 miners trapped in Henan pit after 21 were killed in a gas explosion.
|China has the deadliest mining industry in the world with more than 2,600 deaths in 2009 alone [Reuters]|
Rescuers in China have successfully freed all 29 workers who were trapped for nearly a day in a flooded coal mine in the country’s southwestern Sichuan province.
State broadcaster China Central Television showed live images of miners being taken from the mine on stretchers to ambulances on Monday, a day after the small Batian mine suddenly flooded.
A waiting crowd erupted into celebratory applause and shouting as each miner was brought out.
The men had been doing safety work at the mine when an estimated 4,000 cubic metres of water flooded rushed into the coal mine pit near Neijiang city on Sunday.
An official surnamed Xie with the provincial work safety bureau said 41 workers had been underground at the small, privately-owned Batian mine when it flooded.
Officials said 13 of the workers had managed to escape.
The official Xinhua news agency said Batian had stopped production and was being upgraded to increase its annual capacity from 50,000 tonnes to 60,000 tonnes.
Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan, reporting from the capital, Beijing, said the fact that China state television broadcast Monday’s rescue effort live was significant.
“It’s an indication that officials at some point realised that they were going to be able to rescue these people,” she said.
“What we do know is that this mine is small, but it was an illegally operated mine. So far we have no word of any safety violations – that is something that you do see in China quite frequently.
“It all appears that it was a straightforward mining accident, but it does say a lot about the Chinese in terms of their experience with dealing with these sort of accidents and the way they have responded so quickly.”
But the mining accident comes only days after a similar flooding trapped three workers in an iron mine in southern China on Saturday.
Though most of China’s mining accidents occur in small, illegal mines, Xinhua quoted Lin Shucheng, chief of the provincial work safety bureau, as saying that Batian’s operation was legal and fully licenced.
China depends on coal for 70 per cent of its energy production and its mines are the deadliest in the world, with more than 2,600 people killed in coal mine accidents in 2009 alone.