No signs of life in flooded mine: Chinese rescue team

Last Updated: Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 20:58

Beijing: A group of rescuers and divers
today entered a flooded Chinese mine where 153 workers have
been trapped for almost a week, but found no signs of life.

Thirteen rescuers, including six divers, entered the
flooded coal mine in north China`s Shanxi Province in search
of the trapped workers but found "no signs of life", official
Xinhua news agency reported.

Hopes of survivors brightened yesterday after rescuers
heard tapping of the metal pipes beneath the mine.

If the trapped workers cannot be saved, the accident
will be China`s worst mining disaster in more than two years.

In August 2007, a total of 181 workers died at two
flooded coal mines neighbouring each other -- 172 at one mine
-- in Xintai, eastern Shandong Province.

The team of rescuers were sent down to explore the
flooded shaft in the Wangjialing Coal Mine this afternoon to
prepare for a large scale operation, a spokesman with the
rescue headquarters said.

The divers were carrying underwater cameras to film
the environment in the shaft, he said.

But they all said the situation underground was "very
complicated" and the water was "murky and deep" when they
returned to the surface successively after 3 p.m.

"Under normal conditions, we can work for two hours
underwater, but only about an hour in complicated situation
with bad water quality," a diver was quoted as saying by
Xinhua.

"I could not go too far underground due to
restrictions of equipment I brought," he said.

The spokesman with the rescue headquarters has said
early Sunday morning was the soonest time when a large-scale
rescue operation could be launched.

Rescuers sent down an explosion-proof telephone
through the drill pipe to the pit, hoping to hear the voices
of the trapped or other sings of life. But no sounds were
heard.

Rescuers have sent more than 360 bags of glucose, down
the 250-meter coal mine after hearing banging on the metal
pipe yesterday.

About 3,000 rescuers are racing the clock to pump
water and reach the trapped miners. Rescuers said the trapped
miners were working on nine different platforms, and four
platforms had not been totally submerged, making it possible
that some workers could have survived.

The flooding happened last Sunday when underground
water gushed into the pit of Wangjialing Coal Mine, which was
under construction.

Altogether 261 miners were working underground, and
108 were lifted safely to the surface. Rescuers said the
flooding took place when workers digging tunnels broke through
into an old shaft filled with water.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, April 3, 2010 - 20:58

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