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19 Die in Colliery Flooding
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The flood which submerged a colliery in north China's Shanxi Province a week ago has claimed the lives of at least 19 miners, with nine others still missing, according to local officials.


"Rescuers are doing everything they can to search for those still missing," an official at the command center in Shanxi's Linxian County told China Daily on Friday. The survival chances of the trapped are now "very slim."


The official said thick silt in the pit hampered rescue efforts, as rescuers tried to pump out the slush, mud and coal dust.


According to Xinhua, the underground ventilation system has now resumed operation and a team is investigating the cause of the accident.


Officials say the coal mine was supposed to conduct a safety rectification, which prohibits production, just days before the accident. No more than nine miners are permitted to enter the colliery for maintenance of the shaft.


"A total of 58 miners were working in the pit when the accident took place," said Wang Silai, vice-director of works safety in the city of Luliang, which supervises the county.


Officials said chaotic management and loopholes in work safety practices allowed the miners to dig into a previous coal mine, which led to the sudden flooding.


The owner of the coal mine is now in custody and the provision of compensation for the victims is underway.


The accident took place at 3:30 PM on March 18 in the Fanjiashan Coal Mine in Linxian County. Of the 58 miners who were working under the shaft, only 30 managed to escape.


Meanwhile, a gas explosion in a coal mine in north China's Hebei Province early this week killed eight miners, injuring five others.


According to officials with the provincial work safety bureau, the owner of the No.2 Huzhuang Coal Mine in Zhuolu County tried to cover up the March 20 tragedy.


Inspectors rushed to the site to deal with the aftermath and to investigate the cause of the accident.


Li Yizhong, head of State Administration of Work Safety, said the Chinese Government has vowed to shut down 35,800 unsafe mines this year including 6,000 collieries around the nation, in a bid to reduce the death toll from mining accidents.


(China Daily March 25, 2006)



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