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23 May 2006 Flooded coal mine, Datong, Shanxi Province, China
The chances of survival for 57 miners trapped in a flooded north China coal mine for five days were narrowing, state media quoted rescue officials saying. “The mine owner covered up the incident, causing rescuers to miss the best opportunity for rescue and bringing great difficulties to the rescue,” the Shanxi Youth Daily quoted officials saying on its website today. The mine owners did not immediately report the accident and tried to cover it up by initially reporting only four men were trapped in the Xinjing mine in China’s coal producing center of Datong city, earlier reports said. State television said the number of trapped miners could be higher because several managers, including the mine owner, had fled after destroying crucial documents. “This has brought serious difficulties to determining how many people were working at the time,” Bai Yulong, a spokesman for the rescue effort, told China Central Television (CCTV). Early estimates of the number of men trapped started at 44 but quickly rose to 57. State media said that seven managers had been detained. The mine flooded late Thursday (May 18) when water from an adjacent abandoned mine rushed in after miners used explosives to clear rock. Media reports said the mine had been illegally subcontracted out numerous times as subcontractors eager to increase profits overlooked safety. The State Administration of Work Safety earlier said the mine had been dug deeper than permitted and produced 10 times its licensed output, producing in one month the amount of coal it was licensed to produce in a year.
21 May 2006
It is believed 44 miners have been trapped by floodwaters in a coal mine in northern China. Rescuers told the official Xinhua news agency that 101 of 145 miners working underground when the Xinjing mine in Shanxi province flooded on Thursday (May 18) night managed to escape.
An underground flood trapped 44 miners in a coal mine in northern China and nine mine managers were detained after apparently trying to conceal the scale of the disaster, the government said today. The flood, on May 18, in the Xinjing Coal Mine in Shanxi province, was the biggest accident so far this year in China’s disaster-plagued mining industry. A 200-member rescue team was searching for the missing miners, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It did not say how many were believed to be alive. Mine managers failed to report the true size of the disaster, saying only five miners were missing, Xinhua said. “In this sense, the actual situation of the accident was covered up,” Xinhua said, citing Gong Anku, head of the Shanxi provincial industrial safety bureau. Nine managers have been detained, and their boss is in hiding, Xinhua said. Mine managers drove relatives of missing miners by taxi out of Shanxi to the neighboring Inner Mongolia region “to prevent them from rioting and speaking to the press,” Xinhua said. Chinese mine managers have used similar tactics after previous accidents, effectively detaining miners’ families to compel them to accept financial settlements and promise not to talk to reporters. The midday national TV news showed rescue workers setting up a crane outside the mine and the director of China’s national safety agency, Li Yizhong, talking to officials at the scene. Rescue workers were using nine pumps to drain the mine and were bringing in three more, state television said. A total of 145 miners were working in the Xinjing Coal Mine at the time of the accident, and 101 escaped, Xinhua said. State television said the number of missing might be even higher, because disorderly mine management left it unclear how many were working underground. The mine was operating at more than 10 times its licensed output level, digging as much coal in one month as it was supposed to produce in a year, state TV said.
28 May 2006
Two Chinese county officials have been sacked, 19 mine and banking officials detained and a manager arrested after a coal mine flood trapped 56 people, Xinhua news agency said. The 10-day-old accident, the latest in a series of grim statistics in the world’s deadliest mining industry, happened at the Xinjiang mine in Zuoyun county, north Shanxi province. “The latest check results show that 56 miners are still trapped in the flooded pit,” Xinhua said late on Saturday. “Rescuers are still pumping although hope of finding any of the trapped miners alive is slim.” The number was revised from 57 to 56 after it was discovered one miner had left the mine before the May 18 accident. An initial investigation found the flooding was due to water pouring in from a worked-out section of a neighbouring mine. “Preliminary analysis indicates that miners accidentally dug into the disused, water-filled section and flooded the shaft in which they were working,” Li Yizhong, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, was quoted as saying. Two local government officials were sacked, one as deputy secretary of the Zuoyun county committee of the Communist Party of China, and one as a committee member. The only arrest so far has been of a manager in charge of safety who was discovered in remote neighbouring Inner Mongolia. Xinhua did not say what charges he faced, nor why two bank officials had been detained. Rescuers at the mine had said that hush money had been offered to families of trapped victims to allow the case to be handled “privately”, state media said on Friday. “Police say local authorities had tried to cover up the accident by reporting that only five miners were trapped,” Xinhua said. “Mine managers are alleged to have rented taxis to transfer relatives of the trapped miners to neighbouring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to prevent them from speaking to the media.”