Flood traps 28 in China mine

A total of 41 miners were working in the Batian coal mine when the flood hit, but 13 escaped.

Beijing: Rescuers were trying to free 28 people trapped in a flooded coal mine in southwest China on Sunday, in the latest incident to hit the country`s notoriously dangerous mining sector.

The accident at the mine in Sichuan province occurred at 11 am (0300 GMT) near the city of Neijiang, Xinhua reported, citing local authorities.

A total of 41 miners were working in the Batian coal mine when the flood hit, but 13 escaped, the report said.

A rescue operation was in progress and the whereabouts of the trapped miners were not immediately known, Xinhua reported.

However, hours after the accident occurred no further details of the rescue work or the cause of the accident were available in China`s strictly controlled media.

Provincial and local safety officials were not available for comment on Sunday evening.

Earlier Xinhua also reported three workers were trapped by flood in an iron ore mine in southern China`s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Saturday night. Rescue workers were still trying to free them late Sunday.

The media instead focused on the rescue of a 43-year-old identified only by his surname Fan, who was saved after being trapped for more than three days in a one-metre- (3.3 foot-) diameter steel pipe off China`s east coast.

Fan was working at the bottom of the pipe -- part of an offshore rig -- near the coast of eastern Zhejiang province when tidal pressure twisted the pipe "like a beverage can" and it sank 18 metres below the sea, Xinhua said.

The upper part of the pipe was squeezed to three centimetres (1.2 inches) at its narrowest part, the report said. While trapped for 80 hours Fan received food and water through a tube and a psychiatrist counselled him.

Footage on China Central Television showed workers cutting Fan out with a blowtorch after removing a cement column from the seabed so they could raise the section of pipe out of the sea.

He was shown being lifted onto a stretcher and being rushed to hospital, but reports said he suffered no serious injuries.

In China, considered one of the world`s most dangerous places to work, an average of 187 people were killed in work-related accidents every day in the first half of this year, according to government figures.

Chinese mines are notoriously dangerous due to the widespread flouting of safety rules, typically blamed on corrupt mine operators trying to keep costs down, with coal mining particularly accident-prone.

China`s poor safety record came under fresh scrutiny after the successful rescue of 33 miners trapped underground in Chile for more than two months gripped the world, sparking comparisons with China`s litany of deadly disasters.

Last year 2,631 Chinese miners were killed, according to official statistics, but independent labour groups say the true figure is likely to be much higher as many accidents are believed to be covered up.

The government has repeatedly vowed to shut dangerous mines and strengthen safety, but the accidents continue with regularity as mines rush to pump out the coal on which China relies for about 70 percent of its energy.

Bureau Report

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