The government has yet to launch an investigation into the
flooding that has left 181 people trapped in two mines located in
Shandong Province since Friday. Rescue efforts
have first priority, a safety official said yesterday.
"The State Council has yet to set up an investigation team,"
Huang Yi, spokesman of the State Administration of Work Safety,
said. "So we have not been able to determine the cause of the
However, Civil Affairs Minister Li Xueju told a press conference
in Beijing yesterday that a preliminary analysis by experts had
shown that the flooding was a "natural disaster".
This decision is significant. Relatives of people killed in
mining accidents can receive up to 200,000 yuan in compensation but
the country has no compensation system for victims of natural
However, in an exclusive interview with the Xinhua News Agency
earlier yesterday, Huang criticized media reports that labeled the
flooding due to either a natural disaster or human error. He said
that the work safety administration had not made any such
"The top priority at the moment is to speed up the rescue work
and do whatever we can for those trapped," he said.
Rescuers began their fifth day at the collieries yesterday. On
Friday afternoon, floodwater swept through a 65-m wide breach in
the Wenhe River levee, inundating the Huayuan and Minggong
By 6 PM yesterday, the water level at Huayuan Mine where 172
miners are trapped had fallen to 66.59 m. Rescuers were still 96 m
from where some of the workers are believed to be trapped.
An additional pump went into operation at about midday
yesterday, increasing the drainage capacity to more than 1,500 cu m
Eighty-five relatives of the trapped miners have fallen sick
from grief. They are receiving treatment in the hospital, Huang
Longhua, an official with the rescue headquarters tasked with
consoling families of the victims, stated.
The government has dispatched 134 medical workers to take care
of the sick relatives, he said, adding that all are in stable
Managers at the Huayuan Mine have also sent 545 employees to
console the families of the trapped miners.
Water resources specialists have blamed the disaster largely on
heavy rain and inadequate flood-prevention facilities.
Experts said on Tuesday that hope for the miners was dimming.
About 100 days is needed to drain the water if 5,000 cu m were
pumped out every hour.
(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2007)